The Super Eagles of Nigeria will go into their second Group D game against Sudan on Saturday as favourites.
The encounter is already being labeled a mismatch by passionate Nigerians following the impressive nature of Coach Austin Eguavoen’s tactical masterclass and the players’ execution of the 1-0 victory over Egypt.
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We look at the key expectations of football-loving citizens before the 5pm clash today.
Goals, Goals, and Goals
It was surprising and refreshing to see the quartet of Moses Simon, Kelechi Iheanacho, and Taiwo Awoniyi tearing apart Egypt’s defence on Tuesday. Simon bossed the wing, created opportunities, and should have scored from a couple of chances. The same can be said of Awoniyi who made Ahmed Hegazi, the experienced defender with years of EPL experience, look like a newcomer. Iheanacho scored a sumptuous goal and also flunked other chances.
This one-goal margin should not be the case against Sudan as Nigerians already expect the floodgate of goals opened. The young attack looks in a hungry, menacing mood and should tear apart a team that last won a match in August 2021, suffering seven defeats in 12 games. The Falcons of Jediane could not muster a point or goal in the recently concluded Arab Cup where they shipped five goals to Egypt.
Algeria also scored four unreplied goals in the December tournament and given their display in the 0-0 draw against Guinea Bissau in their first AFCON match, the Nigeria attack should have a wonderful day in office.
The four-man defence did a yeoman’s job on Egypt’s attacking threats. Not only was the hottest striker in European big leagues Mohamed Salah silenced, but other options were also doused by the backline marshaled by captain William Troost-Ekong. He had alongside him the battling Kenneth Omeruo who was everywhere to break Egypt’s attacks before it takes root. Zaidu Sanusi and Ola Aina played their fullback roles to perfection while Maduka Okoye showed why he maintained his number one Jersey by saving from Mo’ Salah. The chemistry is expected to continue against a Sudan side that has failed to score in seven of the past eight matches, their only success coming in a 3-2 friendly loss to Ethiopia.
The level of quality already tasted against Egypt is expected to continue against Sudan, with Nigerians mostly tuning in to witness the number of goals Eguavoen’s side will score against the floundering North Africans. Braces for Awoniyii and Iheanacho in a 4-0 win?
At a pre-match briefing on Friday, the Sudanese national team expressed determination to stun the Super Eagles.
Although Yasine Ahmed, the skipper, acknowledged the presence of top class players in Eagles team, he said his team will go all out and compete against the three-time Africa champions.
“It’s a very important game for us. We want to take points. They have top class players. They play in England, Spain, Italy and France. We want to compete and have a good game. It’s 50-50.”
“Many people expect us to lose. In football, anything can happen. We want to go out there and compete. We want to make our fans happy and that’s the aim going into Saturday’s game. This tournament is very important for every player. It’s one of the best tournaments in the world. Nigeria is a very good team. We want to win. We won’t focus on one player.”
So, we expect Sudan to put up a fighting spirt.