Home » AFCON 2023: Nigeria Vs Equatorial Guinea preview, Team news, possible starting XI, all you need to know

AFCON 2023: Nigeria Vs Equatorial Guinea preview, Team news, possible starting XI, all you need to know

by Lesley Ngwa
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The Super Eagles of Nigeria are looking to end a decade-long wait to win the Africa Cup of Nations and they begin their quest with a group stage clash against Equatorial Guinea.

The Super Eagles are arguably one of the big guns in African football but have consistently underperformed in the AFCON in recent years.

Manager Jose Peseiro heads into the tournament under some pressure having drawn with Lesotho and Zimbabwe in World Cup qualifying matches before losing to Guinea in a pre-AFCON friendly.

Nigeria was also dealt a huge blow on the eve of the tournament losing Bayer Leverkusen’s forward Victor Boniface to injury. Wilfred Ndidi and Taiwo Awoniyi are also absent.

Despite this, Nigeria are loaded with some huge attacking talent in the form of Victor Osimhen, captain Ahmed Musa and Samuel Chukwueze.

However, Leicester striker Kelechi Iheanacho and towering forward Paul Onuachu are both doubts after missing their team’s final training session, due to a recent injury and late arrival to the camp, respectively.

As for the Nzalang Nacional of Equatorial Guinea, they are looking forward to continue their impressive record of progressing to the last eight whenever they participate at the continental showpiece.

While it should be noted that two of the three times the Equato-guineans thrived came in tournaments they either co-hosted or hosted, and they thrived at AFCON 2021 in Cameroon to reach the quarter-finals.

Juan Micha’s men go into this year’s competition in outstanding form, going undefeated throughout 2023 and claiming victories in World Cup qualifying games against Namibia and Liberia without conceding a goal.

The Nzalang Nacional’s top victory of the previous year came in their 1#0 success over Tunisia in AFCON qualifying, giving them confidence in securing another shock victory against a Nigeria side whose competence has been questioned.

Success is far from assured, but the Equato-guineans have nothing to fear against the Super Eagles, who are less than the sum of their parts.

Team News

Peseiro has had to deal with several forced withdrawals — Wilfred Ndidi, Victor Boniface, and Sadiq Umar have been replaced on the eve of their first game because of injury — while Kelechi Iheanacho is doubtful.

While Bayer Leverkusen’s frontman was primed to partner Osimhen in a 4-4-2, Alex Iwobi was expected to play alongside Ndidi in midfield, and it remains to be seen how Peseiro rejigs his side.

Much has been made about Peseiro’s preference for Francis Uzoho, but the goalkeeper should retain his starting berth.

Emilio Nsue will be pivotal to Equatorial Guinea’s hopes of success at AFCON 2021, and the striker should lead the line for Equatorial Guinea.

A possible threat to the Super Eagles is Jose Machin, whose ball-carrying could disrupt Nigeria’s flawed organisation out of possession.

Nigeria possible starting XI:

Uzoho; Osayi-Samuel, Ajayi, Bassey, Onyemaechi; Chukwueze, Iwobi, Onyeka, Simon; Moffi, Osimhen

Equatorial Guinea possible starting XI:

Owono; Akapo, Anieboh, Orozco, Ndong; Ganet, Bikoro; Miranda, Machin, Salvador; Nsue

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