Three-time champions Nigeria have a full house in Asaba, Delta State for Saturday’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations send-forth friendly against the Warriors of Zimbabwe.
Since qualifying for this year’s AFCON finals following a 1-1 draw with South Africa’s Bafana Bafana in Johannebsurg in November 2018, the Super Eagles have played two friendlies – a 0-0 draw with the Cranes of Uganda in Asaba on 20th November 2018 and a 1-0 defeat of seven-time African champions Egypt also in Asaba on 26th March 2019.
Both teams are expected to offer a sneak preview of how prepared they are for the AFCON, with Nigeria seeded in Group B and rated to go far in the finals and Zimbabwe believing it can punch above its weight in a pool also having host nation Egypt, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.
While Egypt 2019 will be Nigeria’s 18th appearance at the AFCON, Zimbabwe’s Warriors are making only their fourth appearance, following group stage exits in 2004, 2006 and 2017.
In fact, Nigeria was one of the reasons Zimbabwe crashed out at group stage in 2006, as the Super Eagles defeated the Warriors 2-0 in Port Said, with one of the goals from Mikel.
Incidentally, the midfield enforcer and 14-year veteran of the Super Eagles is returning to the group on Saturday after one year out. He played no part in the AFCON qualifying matches and friendly games post-World Cup but is back in the flow for the finals.
Nigeria’s squad for the final phase of preparations also includes pacy winger Ahmed Musa, defenders Abdullahi Shehu, Leon Balogun, William Ekong and Jamilu Collins, midfielders John Ogu, Oghenekaro Etebo and Wilfred Ndidi, and forwards Moses Simon, Henry Onyekuru, Odion Ighalo, Samuel Kalu, Alex Iwobi and Samuel Chukwueze.
25 EAGLES IN AFCON 2019 CAMP
Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (Anorthosis Famagusta, Cyprus); Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Katsina United); Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs, South Africa)
Defenders: Olaoluwa Aina (Torino FC, Italy); Abdullahi Shehu (Bursaspor FC, Turkey); Chidozie Awaziem (Caykur Rizespor, Turkey); William Ekong (Udinese FC, Italy); Leon Balogun (Brighton & Hove Albion, England); Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes, Spain); Jamilu Collins (SC Padeborn 07, Germany); Semi Ajayi (Rotherham United, England)
Midfielders: Mikel John Obi (Middlesbrough FC, England); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Oghenekaro Etebo (Stoke City FC, England); John Ogu (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Al Nassar FC, Saudi Arabia); Victor Osimhen (Royal Charleroi SC, Belgium); Moses Simon (Levante FC, Spain); Henry Onyekuru (Galatasaray SK, Turkey); Odion Ighalo (Shanghai Shenhua, China); Alexander Iwobi (Arsenal FC, England); Samuel Kalu (Girondins Bordeaux, France); Paul Onuachu (FC Midtjyland, Denmark); Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City, England); Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal FC, Spain)