Sports activities Mole previews Friday’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifying conflict between Nigeria and Sierra Leone, together with crew information and predicted lineups.

Nigeria will probably be trying to preserve their excellent begin to qualification for the 2022 Africa Cup of Nations once they face off towards Sierra Leone in Friday’s Group L conflict.

In distinction, the guests sit backside of the group after selecting up only one level from six on supply through the first matches of qualification final 12 months.


Match preview

Nigeria's Odion Ighalo celebrates scoring their first goal against Tunisia on July 17, 2019© Reuters

The coronavirus pandemic has devastated the sporting calendar in ways in which have by no means been seen earlier than, with precisely a 12 months separating Nigeria’s first and third qualification matches for AFCON 2022.

Nonetheless, Nigeria made the proper begin to their qualifying group final November as they loved back-to-back victories over Benin and Lesotho, with Sierra Leone determined to keep away from changing into the Tremendous Eagles’ third victims this Friday.

Napoli ahead Victor Osimhen already boasts three objectives from Nigeria’s opening two matches, with the 21-year-old netting from the spot in a 2-1 victory over Benin earlier than bagging a brace because the Tremendous Eagles swept apart Lesotho 4-2 on matchday two.

The three-time AFCON winners took to the pitch for the primary time since that six-goal thriller final month, however Gernot Rohr‘s males suffered a 1-0 pleasant defeat to 2019 AFCON champions Algeria earlier than sharing the spoils in a 1-1 draw with Tunisia.

The qualification format sees Nigeria face off towards Sierra Leone in each of their video games this month, and a victory right here would go a great distance in the direction of staking a declare for a spot within the 2022 match, in addition to giving the Tremendous Eagles unbridled confidence earlier than they meet Sierra Leone once more a number of days later.

Sierra Leone haven’t made it to AFCON since 1996, however John Keister‘s males have made a poor begin to their qualification interval and are already up towards it with 4 video games left to play in Group L.

Friday’s guests have been seconds away from beginning their marketing campaign with a win towards Lesotho earlier than Jane Thabantso netted in harm time to cancel out Kwame Quee‘s opener, and Keister’s aspect couldn’t flip their fortunes round on matchday two as they misplaced 1-0 to Benin.

Like Nigeria, Sierra Leone’s time on the pitch has been considerably hampered by the continued COVID-19 outbreak, and Leone Stars didn’t put together for November’s recreation in optimum vogue as they suffered pleasant defeats to Mauritania and Niger final month.

Nigeria and Sierra Leone have met 14 instances down the years, with the Tremendous Eagles popping out on prime in 9 of these clashes, and a victory right here would see the hosts make it 4 wins in a row towards Leone Stars – who final beat Nigeria in 2001.

Nigeria Africa Cup of Nations qualifying type: WW
Nigeria type (all competitions): DWWWLD

Sierra Leone Africa Cup of Nations qualifying type: DL
Sierra Leone type (all competitions): LWDLLL


Crew Information

Leicester City's Wilfred Ndidi celebrates scoring their fifth goal in September 2019© Reuters

Leicester Metropolis’s Wilfred Ndidi will probably be ready a short time longer to attain his first objective for Nigeria as he misses out right here with an adductor harm, however his Foxes teammate Kelechi Iheanacho is within the squad and prepared for motion.

Fellow Premier League gamers Alex Iwobi and Semi Ajayi have additionally made the reduce, whereas Rangers midfielder Joe Aribo can be again within the fold after lacking final month’s friendlies.

Nevertheless, Ligue 1 attackers Samuel Kalu and Moses Simon are each on the therapy desk and haven’t been included, whereas goalkeeper Sebastian Osigwe is the one uncapped participant known as up by Rohr.

Sierra Leone will welcome Kei Kamara again to the squad after the 36-year-old reversed his determination to retire, and the Minnesota United man is about to start out up prime.

On one other optimistic notice, captain Umaru Bangura – who has just lately recovered from COVID-19 – has shrugged off issues over his health to make himself obtainable for Friday’s conflict.

Nigeria potential beginning lineup:
Akpeyi; Aina, Balogun, Troost-Ekong, Sanusi; Ajayi, Etebo, Aribo; Chukwueze, Osimhen, Iwobi

Sierra Leone potential beginning lineup:
M. Kamara; Kakay, Bangura, Sesay, Wright; J. Kamara, Strasser; Bundu, Quee, Turay; Ok. Kamara


SM words green background

We are saying: Nigeria 3-0 Sierra Leone

Given the respective type of the 2 sides heading into this match, and the gulf in high quality on present, we will solely see one winner on matchday three. Nigeria are extremely unlikely to slide up and can really feel able to notching up a number of objectives even with some notable absentees, so the Tremendous Eagles ought to march to victory of their first of two clashes with Sierra Leone within the coming days.


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