Super Eagles will be aiming to seal qualification to the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations when the team confront the Squirrels of Benin at the Stade Charles de Gaulle, Porto-Novo today (Saturday).
The Super Eagles are one point clear of Benin at the top of Group L but neither side are secure in qualification, with Sierra Leone and Lesotho not too far behind.
The three-time AFCON Champions are without Moses Simon and Samuel Kalu, with Nantes refusing to allow the former to leave (due to French quarantine laws) and the latter injured.
Gernot Rohr’s side remains unbeaten in their opening four games, beating Benin and Lesotho with two draws against Sierra Leone, including a 4-4 thriller at home in November which did see them lose a four-goal lead.
But that 4-4 draw with Sierra Leone means Nigeria do need at least two points from their two games. If they were to finish level on points with Sierra Leone, which is still a possibility, then Nigeria would fall below due to away goals scored.
Overall, Saturday’s visitors have a historical advantage over their hosts, who they have beaten in 12 of the 15 previous clashes, losing just once in that time.
Benin are also on the verge of booking their place at next year’s continental showpiece that is set to hold in Cameroon.
Michel Dussuyer’s men bounced back in style from an opening defeat to Nigeria, picking up seven points from the next nine available.
The Squirrels were held to a disappointing draw by Lesotho in the last round, missing out on an opportunity to move into first place.
However, they have another chance to do that this weekend as the current leaders come visiting, but they would need to claim a first win in four years over their visitors.
On a brighter note, Saturday’s hosts are a force to reckon with on their own patch having not lost a home game since 2013.
Possible starting lineup
Benin: Allagbe; Roche, Adenon, Hountondji; Assogba, D’Almeida, Ahlinvi, Imorou; Dossou, Djigla, Mounie
Nigeria: Okoye; Sanusi, Balogun, Troost Ekong, Aina; Aribo, Ndidi, Etebo; Iwobi, Iheanacho, Osimhen
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By Augustine Akhilomen