Nigeria’s Super Eagles look forward to a good outing as they face the Teranga Lions of Senegal today in Ismaila, Egypt.
The Lions are ranked Africa’s number one team, with the Super Eagles still third in Africa, despite dropping three spots to 45th in the latest FIFA ranking.
Reports from the Eagles’ camp point to a very positive ambience with players and officials thinking of how to bring honour and glory to the nation when the 32nd Africa Cup of Nations kicks off on Friday, June 21.
The Eagles played out a 0-0 draw with Zimbabwe on June 9 in their last warm-up game played in Asaba, Delta State.
The last time Nigeria and Senegal clashed at senior level was two years ago in London. Kelechi Iheanacho equalized from the spot after Moussa Sow had put Senegal ahead – both goals coming in the second half.
Three –time African champions Nigeria are on an eight –match unbeaten run since elimination from the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals in Russia.
Today’s game has been scheduled to start at 7pm Egypt time (6pm Nigeria time) and both federations have agreed the match be played behind closed door in order to enable both coaching crews to tinker with tactics and strategy during the encounter.
Head coach of the Super Eagles, Gernot Rohr, has confirmed that his assistant captain, Ahmed Musa, will not feature in today’s game.
Rohr cited ill-health as the reason why the Saudi Arabia-based winger is being left out of the squad.
“Musa is sick as a result of this he will not play against Senegal,” the German said.
Rohr also revealed that striker Henry Onyekuru and right-back Shehu Abdullahi won’t face the Teranga Lions.
There’s however good news as Oghenekaro Etebo and Chidozie Awaziem, who were down with cold while training in Asaba, Delta State, are now fit to play.
“Etebo and Awaziem have recovered from illness and they have been training with us. So they are available for selection for the big match against Africa’s best team Senegal,” Rohr said.
The Nigeria delegation will depart from Ismailia tomorrow morning for Alexandria – venue of their Group B games against Burundi, Guinea and Madagascar on June 22, 26 and 30 respectively.
Senegal are up against Algeria, Kenya and Tanzania in Group C and will play their games in Cairo.
Egyptian referee Mahmoud Ashor will take charge of proceedings today and will be assisted by compatriots Mohamed Abdel Mgeed, Ahmed Salah and Said Abdollah.
Egypt 2019 is Nigeria’s 18th appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations, three more than Senegal.