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Sports News of Tuesday, 28 March 2023


AFCON Qualifiers: Super Eagles seek redemption against Guinea-Bissau

Super Eagles Super Eagles

The qualification series for the 2024 AFCON tournament continues on Monday in Group A, where Nigeria, ranked 35th in the world, lost to 118th-ranked Guinea Bissau last Friday at the Moshood Abiola Stadium and now need a quick return to winning ways to wrestle back leadership of the group.

It was yet another sad example of how things have gone wrong with the Super Eagles recently, as the team led by Coach Jose Peseiro lost their fourth consecutive match.

The Eagles have only scored once during this losing streak.

Despite assembling top stars such as Victor Osimhen, Ademola Lookman, Samuel Chukwueze, Alex Iwobi, and Moses Simon, who play in Europe’s top five leagues, the three-time African champions, valued at $360 million, lost in front of home fans to Guinea Bissau’s wild dogs, with a valuation of $7.5 million.

While many think the Super Eagles did not play well enough last Friday in Abuja, coach Jose Peseiro feels otherwise, as he said his team was just unlucky not to score from the chances they created.

“We are sad and upset with this bad result. But we played a good game, very attacking, and created many goal-scoring opportunities that unfortunately we didn’t take.

“We want to repeat this performance in Guinea, but scoring. We are going with all our commitment and sacrifice to win,” the 62-year-old manager affirmed in a Twitter post at the weekend before departing for the second leg billed for Estadio Nacional 24 de Setembro.

Deja vu

The Super Eagles have done it before, bouncing back within a few days of a similar 0-1 loss to the Central African Republic (CAR) and winning the reversed leg, 2-0 in Douala, Cameroon.

However, unlike the CAR scenario, which was played in a neutral venue in Cameroon, Guinea-Bissau will be at home, in front of their vociferous fans, who will charge them to do a double over Nigeria.

The Guinea-Bissau coach Baciro Cande is not getting carried away by Friday’s shocking result as he wants his team to focus their energy on securing another positive result against their heavyweight opponents.

“For the second leg, we shall go back to plan how best to play Nigeria. Of course, we will be going for another victory. We still respect the Eagles despite our victory,” Cande said.

Djurtus’ captain, Braima Nogueira Jorge, said before his team left for home on Saturday that Guinea Bissau had shown that a team’s pedigree does not decide football matches.

“Nigeria is blessed with talented players, who are well known all over the world playing for top clubs.

“We scored a goal and defended well to frustrate Nigeria. It is a good win, and we want to return home to complete the job,” Jorge said.

Difficult situationThe Super Eagles cannot afford another defeat in Monday’s tie as he might put their qualification hopes in jeopardy.

Presently, Guinea-Bissau dictate the pace in Group A with seven points from three games, while Nigeria is second with six points from the same number of games.

Sierra Leone, third in the group, have five points, and they will host the Super Eagles in the next round of fixtures for matchday 5.

With their backs against the wall, we expect coach Peseiro to tweak his team, and reports suggest the likes of Ademola Lookman and Samuel Chukwueze could start from the bench.

Semi Ajayi is the likely replacement for the injured Kevin Akpoguma, though the more experienced Kenneth Omeruo is also another option.

The match will kick off at 5 p.m.

Possible LineupsGuinea Bissau XI: Jonas Mendes, Opa Sangante, Soriano Mane, Chipela Gomes, Tito Junior, Pele, Mauro Teixeira, Caba Camara, Mama Samba, Zinho, Mama Balde

Nigeria XI: Uzoho, Osayi-Samuel, Bassey, Ajayi, Sanusi, Ndidi, Iwobi, Musa, Simon.