The second round of fixtures continues on Saturday when Nigeria take on Sudan and Premier League News Now takes an enlightening look at what to expect ahead of this Group D game in this year’s Africa Cup of Nation.
Nigeria take on Sudan after a 1-0 victory over Egypt in the group opener as a win would automatically book a place in the knockout stages for them. For Sudan, all three points would be vital but a draw against the super eagles would be far from a disappointing result considering the fact that they drew their opening game against Guinea Bissau.
WHERE AND WHEN?
Time: 4pm GMT.
Date: January 15.
Venue: The Stade Omnisport Roumde Adjia in Yaounde.
Captain Ahmed Musa could get a run out for the Super Eagles although their attacking line impressed. Indeed, in tournament football, it’s important to keep players fresh ahead of the knockout rounds and perhaps they can afford to rotate.
Nigeria could do without the services of former Chelsea defender Kenneth Omeruo, who was stretchered off the pitch through a 79th-minute injury against Egypt last time out. His replacement Semi Ajayi, who plays for West Bromwich Albion in the Championship, could start and team up with William Troost-Ekong in the middle of defence.
For Sudan, there are no major changes expected. Al-Gozoli Nooh will be one of few pushing for a starting role and the Al-Merrikh forward could come in for Yasin Hamed, who struggled to make his mark last time out before coming off in the 66th minute
After an entertaining game in what was a mesmerizing performance from the super eagles against the Pharaohs of Egypt, Nigeria come into this game confident that they have what it takes to lift up their fourth trophy as African champions as a win over Sudan would have them book their place in the knockout round of the competition.
Nigeria fired 15 shots against Egypt and were really impressive from defence to attack as they managed to keep Mohammed Salah out of the game. Kelechi Iheanacho’s half volley was Enough for a victory.
They emphatically stated that they can attack but converting their created chances or finding the final pass was quite disappointing on their part. Only a goal from 15 shots with just five on target. Rangers Midfielder Joe Aribo was quite impressive on the night as well as Wilfred Ndidi of Leicester and they will look to have the same control for Nigeria in midfield against Sudan. Moses Simon was absolutely incredible down the left-wing and so was Taiwo Awoyini of Union Berlin who played right behind Kelechi Iheanacho for the most part of the game.
This two will be very hard to contain for Sudan defenders and Sudan goalkeeper Ali Achrine will have to be even better than he was in their opening game against Guinea Bissau if Sudan stands a chance of getting anything out of this game.
The physicality of the tournament has not gone unnoticed. 15 fouls on the part of Nigeria in their opening game and penalties have been awarded to many teams already in the tournament. A foul against Sudan to give them (Sudan) the lead through a spot-kick would make the game very difficult for them.
Out of the six corners Nigeria had in their opening game, they failed to convert any into the back of the net. This is a major concern for Nigeria and Coach Augustine Eguavoen will be making his team know they have to improve in that aspect of the game.
After a 0-0 draw against Guinea Bissau on Tuesday, Sudan approaches the second round of fixtures against a well-drilled Nigerian side.
Sudan made a squad overhaul right before the tournament and although they find themselves in a tough group with the super eagles and the Pharaohs of Egypt, a win or point could boost their chances of making it to the knock out stages before the final group games are played.
Goalkeeper Abu Eshrein’s penalty save in the last ten minutes against Guinea Bissau earned the team a crucial point to revive their ambitions in this year’s tournament.
The Secretary Birds sacked former boss Hubert Velud last month after a disappointing performance in the Arab Cup where they conceded 10 goals and failed to score across their three games.
Mohamed Abdelrahman went closest for Sudan, forcing a good stop from Guinea-Bissau goalkeeper Maurice Gomis on the stroke of half-time. Creating clear cut chances have been a major problem for Sudan and against Nigeria, they would have to play at their upmost best to increase their hopes of qualifying to the next round of the competition.
Ten shots with just four on target for Sudan. They are yet to score in this edition of AFCON and the 1970 winners have a huge task ahead of them on Saturday
PREMIER LEAGUE PLAYER FEATURE
Wilfred Ndidi ( Leicester City)
A great holding midfielder who reads the game magnificently. Wilfred Ndidi of Leicester is one to watch on Saturday when Nigeria take on Sudan. A key player for the foxes and a huge blow to Leicester Manager Brenden Rodgers, Wilfred Ndidi had a great game against Egypt. He controlled the pace of the game in midfield for the Super Eagles against Arsenal’s Mohammed Elneny. Together with Joe Aribo in midfield against Sudan, Nigeria have the game wrapped around their own fingers as they look to book a place in the next round of the competition.
Kelechi Iheanacho ( Leicester City)
After an impressive game against Egypt on Tuesday, Nigeria’s Kelechi Iheanacho approaches Saturday’s game against Sudan looking to find the back of the net in consecutive games. The Leicester forward who scored twice and assisted four times in the premier league this season before joining Nigeria in this competition is in blistering form and his positioning off the ball is a major concern for opposition defenders.
A half volley against Egypt secured all three points for Nigeria in their opening game and Kelechi is definitely one to watch on Saturday against the secretary birds of Sudan
Nigeria predicted XI: Maduka Okoye, Temitayo Ola Aina, Trost Ekong (C), Kenneth Omeruo, Zaidu Sanusi, Joe Aribo, Wilfred Ndidi, Samuel Chukueze, Moses Simon, Kelechi Iheanacho, Taiwo Awoyini.
Sudan predicted XI: Ali Abu Eshrein, Saeed Elfadni, Salah Nemer (c), Mustafa Karshom, Alnour Mohamed, Abbas Omer, Khidir, El-Rasheed, Omer Yagoub, Hamed, Yousif.
Nigeria 2-0 Sudan