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2017 AFCON qualifying preview: Do or die for Nigeria
KingFut previews the penultimate match in Egypt and Nigeria’s respective 2017 African Cup of Nations qualifying campaigns, as both teams prepare to do battle in Alexandria.
Tuesday evening sees two of Africa’s most successful teams clash at the Borg El Arab stadium as they aim to qualify for the 2017 AFCON finals in Gabon.
Hector Cuper’s men struggled to a 1-1 draw in Kaduna on Friday,with Nigeria enjoying the majority of the possession.
Moreover, Nigeria coaching staff and officials were less than pleased with how Egypt equalised; many felt Egypt should have knocked the ball out of play after an attacking player went to the ground with an apparent injury.
The unpleasantness should trigger plenty of emotions in Egypt, and an already intense – and crucial – match in Alexandria will definitely be affected by such a charged atmosphere.
A win for Egypt would all but seal their qualification to the tournament finals in Gabon next year, and would signal the end for the West Africans’ hopes of progression; Chad’s withdrawal from Group G means that the second-placed team will not be qualifying under any circumstances whatsoever.
Should Nigeria pull off a win, however, they will be the favorites to finish at the top of the standings, and will go into the final matchday with a one point lead over Egypt, with Tanzania visiting the former team at home in September.
Egypt probable XI: El-Shennawy; Gaber, Rabia, Hegazy, Tolba; Elneny, Ibrahim Salah, Abdallah El-Said; Ramadan, Koka, Mohamed Salah.
Nigeria probable XI: Ezenwa; Abdullahi, Oboabona, Ambrose, Echiejile; Mikel, Etebo, Simon; Moses, Musa, Ighalo
Key battle: Mohamed Salah vs Elderson Echiéjilé – Stanley Amuzie struggled against the mercurial Salah in the first encounter, and Nigeria may very well call on the more experienced Monaco defender for the trip to Alexandria. Salah will definitely be part of an interesting battle against the left-back of Siasia’s choice on Tuesday.
Player to watch: Odion Ighalo – The Watford striker was clearly below his uncontainable best on Friday, and he will surely be looking to stamp his mark on the second part of the entertaining double header between both teams. Perhaps Victor Moses replacing Iheanacho would help the former Granada man prosper?
Trivia: Egypt are currently on a 26-year unbeaten streak against Nigeria, facing off five times in that period.
STAT: Nigera haven't won against Egypt since 5 March 1990.
— KingFut.com (@King_Fut) March 25, 2016
Prediction: Egypt 2-1 Nigeria
Kick-off is scheduled for 19:00 CLT at the Borg El Arab stadium; make sure to follow our extensive coverage leading up to, during, and after the match!