With four points already and second in Group A behind Equatorial Guinea on goal difference, Nigeria are out to finish their group campaign on a high as group leaders at the 2023 AFCON on Monday (today), but they have been advised by ex-internationals and fans to thread carefully against their opponents, Guinea-Bissau.
The Super Eagles play the bottom-placed side at the Stade Félix Houphoüet-Boigny, Abidjan needing a win to go top of the table, given that Equatorial Guinea are unable to beat Ivory Coast in the other last game of the group.
After a 1-1 draw in their first game against Equatorial Guinea, Jose Peseiro’s men got their campaign back on track with a spirited 1-0 win over hosts Ivory Coast, while their opponents today, Guinea-Bissau, lost both of their games and are eliminated from the tournament.
Guinea-Bissau stunned the Eagles courtesy of a 1-0 win against the Eagles in Abuja during the qualifiers for the 2023 AFCON.
Eighteen players who featured in the defeat to the Wild Dogs March 24, 2023, including Osimhen, are with the team in Ivory Coast and are seeking revenge against the team coached by Baciro Cande.
Eagles striker, Victor Osimhen, said the Eagles would study the tape of the loss to Guinea-Bissau and come up with a strategy to beat the fellow West Africans.
We know them, we played them in the qualifying series. They are a dangerous team if you let them play,” Osimhen told reporters in Abidjan
I think we’ll go back to the last game in which they won and then we’ll start the game and come up really strong against them. It’s not going to be an easy game but we’re ready to give everything for our fans and country to make them happy.
Midfielder Alex Iwobi echoed Osimhen’s desire to give everything for the fans as he also promised the Eagles would win to make Nigerians happy.
The sort of players we have will always create chances and we were able to get the one against Ivory Coast and if we are able to get at least one and defend well, we’ll win the game (against G-Bissau).
Nigerians aren’t happy if you don’t win, for them to be happy you have to win, so, we are going to win to make them happy, he said in an interview with journalist Osasu Obayiuwana on Sunday.
We want to take the first place and for that, we must do battle. We must do what is necessary to accomplish our mission,” Eagles coach Jose Peseiro said at the pre-match conference at the Palais de la Culture in the Treichville area of Abidjan on Sunday.
Meanwhile, there have been reactions back home, ahead of the crucial tie.
Ex-international, Tijanii Babangida, an AFCON finalist on home soil in 2000, said, Any of the three teams among Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea and Ivory Coast can qualify. So, the win is important but they must know there are no pushovers. It’s a competitive game and I expect them to grow in every game, regardless of the fact that they have won against us before.
I know we are going to play with caution, and again, if we could beat Ivory Coast, the morale is high but I know they will play with caution because we have a lot of experienced players in the team. So, it will be very good for them to top the group, 2013 AFCON winner, Azubuike Egwwuekwe, noted.
Given theEagles inconsistent run under Peseiro, some fans are wary of the Wild Dogs.
Let’s not underestimate a wounded team, besides, we don’t have to be in a hurry to win. Let’s calm down, hold the ball and the opportunities will come,” a fan, Adetuwo Suji, said.
If Nigeria finish top of the group, they are poised to face any best losing side from Group C, which could be Cameroon or even Algeria from Group D as well as Namibia, Tunisia or even South Africa from Group E in the round of 16.
A second-place finish will pair the Eagles against the second-place team from Group C, which is likely going to be Guinea, which beat Peseiro’s men 2-0 in a pre-tournament friendly in Abu Dhabi last week.
The most unlikely outcome is qualifying as one of the best losers, and that will be a date with the winners of Group B, Cape Verde.
Nigeria’s game against Guinea-Bissau kicks off at 6pm Nigerian time – simultaneously with the other game between Ivory Coast and Equatorial Guinea.
The last time the Eagles and Wild Dogs clashed at the AFCON (2022), the Eagles defeated their foes 2-0, thanks to second half goals from Umar Sadiq and Wiliam Troost-Ekong.