In Group A of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, Nigeria and Sao Tome & Principe will wrap up their campaign as they face off today at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium.
In their previous encounter last year at the Stade Adrar, Nigeria had a dominant 10-0 victory over Sao Tome & Principe, and they aim to replicate that performance in front of their home fans.
Nigeria secured their place in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations with a hard-fought 3-2 win against Sierra Leone at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex on June 18. Despite falling behind 2-0 due to Victor Osimhen’s first-half brace, Nigeria made a comeback with goals from Mustapha Bundu and Augustus Kargbo. In the 95th minute, Kelechi Iheanacho sealed the victory.
Before that, Nigeria ended a five-game losing streak across all competitions on March 27 by defeating Guinea-Bissau 1-0 at the Estadio 24 de Setembro, thanks to a first-half penalty from Moses Simon.
Nigeria, seeking their fourth African championship title and the first since 2013, have won four of their five qualifiers, with a lone 1-0 loss to Guinea-Bissau on March 24 being the exception. They currently lead Group A with a seven-point lead over third-placed Sierra Leone.
On the other hand, Sao Tome & Principe’s dream of making their debut in the Africa Cup of Nations has been dashed once again as they sit at the bottom of the group table after an unconventional qualifying campaign.
Adriano Eusebio’s team has suffered four losses in five Group A games, with a thrilling 2-2 draw against Sierra Leone at the Stade Adrar on March 22 as their only positive result.
Their defensive woes have contributed to this poor run, as they have conceded a staggering 20 goals in five matches, making them the worst defensive team in the qualifiers.
Sao Tome & Principe enters this weekend’s match without a win in their last 17 games across all competitions, having lost 16 and drawn one since their 2-1 victory over Libya in the AFCON qualifiers in March 2016.
Nigeria has selected a 23-man squad for this weekend’s clash, featuring key players like Osimhen, Kelechi Iheanacho, Wilfred Ndidi, and captain William Troost-Ekong. Taiwo Awoniyi, who has been in excellent form with a goal involvement in each of his last eight Premier League games, also earned a spot in the squad. However, Ahmed Musa, Nigeria’s most-capped player, has been omitted. The Super Eagles squad also includes newcomers such as centre-back Jordan Torunarigha and attacking duo Victor Boniface and Gift Orban, who may make their debuts.
Meanwhile, Eusebio has named a 21-man squad for the match against Nigeria, with notable players such as goalkeeper Pedro Mateus, midfielder Denilson Silva, and veteran striker Luis Leal. Leal, the all-time leading scorer for the Selecao, is expected to lead the attack alongside Ebanilson Viegas and Marcos Barbeiro.
Source Pictures: Punch news paper
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