It’s been a year since the first match day of the qualifiers for the 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) was played. On that day, Nigeria suffered a heart-breaking defeat at home at the hands of South Africa. After that, they went to Russia to play in the World Cup in a tough group with Croatia, Argentina and Iceland. They beat Iceland and were minutes away from going into the elimination rounds before Argentina managed to score a late goal and ruin it for the Super Eagles.
Now that’s all in the past as Nigeria are travelling to the Seychelles, where they will play their 2nd AFCON qualifying match in Victoria. Apart from Victor Moses who has recently announced his retirement from international football and team captain John Obi-Mikel, most of the players from the World Cup are on the squad list for this match.
Some of the players, who recently came to the squad, like Simeon Nwankwo, say that the Eagles always play the same, to win, and that it’s important to work hard and take your chance when you are called up. There are four newcomers to the squad this time; Jamilu Collins, Semi Ajayi, Kelechi Nwakali and Samuel Kalu. This will be their first time playing for the national team.
Seychelles are ranked number 188 in the FIFA rankings, 139 places below Nigeria, so the Eagles are massive favourites to win this game even though the Seychelles coach, Gavin Jeanne, said that he had scouted Nigeria in the World Cup and that he is confident that his squad can beat Nigeria. This will also be the first time these two national teams meet on the football field.
In today’s training sessions, the Nigerians practised formations and it looks like Jamilu Collins from Paderborn will start as the left back while Bryan Idowu will move to right back with Kenneth Omeruo and Leon Balogun in the middle of the defence. A lot has been said about Nigeria’s defence but they are confident they can improve in the field, starting tomorrow. Of course, final squad lists and starting eleven will be announced some time ahead of kick-off on Saturday.
Nigeria are currently third in their group and they a good result from this game to get back into the fight for AFCON 2019. After the game in Victoria, the Super Eagles will be heading to Monrovia to play against Liberia in a friendly match on Tuesday, 11th September.