AFCON 2023 Race: In-form Osimhen leads Eagles’ charge for three points against Wild Dogs
Napoli forward also seeking to extend lead in top scorer's race
Nigerian ball fans will bank on rave-of-the-moment Victor James Osimhen to bang in the goals as the Super Eagles go up against the Wild Dogs of Guinea Bissau as the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign reaches the halfway mark.
Top-of-the-table Nigeria square up to second-placed Guinea Bissau at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium on Friday from 5pm, with both teams eyeing the full marks in order to consolidate on earlier gains towards landing in Cote d’Ivoire.
Osimhen, with 25 goals in all competitions this season, netted a significant four in a remarkable 10-0 win for Nigeria against Sao Tome and Principe in June last year, days after he had netted the winner in a 2-1 win over Sierra Leone on Matchday 1 at the same Moshood Abiola National Stadium.
With five goals, the former U17 World Cup winner and record goalscorer (with 10 goals) is among the leading marksmen in the qualifying race, and will grab his opportunities with both hands in the two matches against Guinea Bissau in order to put daylight between himself and other contenders.
Coach José Santos Peseiro will surely put his best foot forward in only his third match, with the objective of keeping intact his hundred per cent record in competitive matches.
Goalkeeper Francis Uzoho could start in goal, and there are Semi Ajayi, Bright Osayi-Samuel, Kevin Akpoguma, Kenneth Omeruo, Calvin Bassey, Zaidu Sanusi and Bruno Onyemaechi to pick from for the rearguard, as well as England-based quartet Wilfred Ndidi, Frank Onyeka, Alex Iwobi and Joe Aribo in the middle of the pack.
Captain Ahmed Musa, Kelechi Iheanacho, Samuel Chukwueze, Moses Simon, Ademola Lookman, Terem Moffi and Paul Onuachu are available for the fore sector, as the Eagles aim for all six points that will super-pave their pathway to the finals.
Sierra Leone’s 2-2 draw with Sao Tome and Principe in Agadir, Morocco on Wednesday turned out a boon for the Eagles, as the Leone Stars are stuck on one point after three matches and would no longer be in contention if Nigeria grab all six points from these two matches.
Coach Baciro Candé, who has led the Djurtus an impressive four points in their previous two games, said on arrival in Nigeria on Wednesday that his boys will play with confidence and invention.
Guinea Bissau have featured in three Africa Cup of Nations finals, making an impressive debut at the 2017 tournament in Gabon.