AFCON 2019 CRACKER
Femi Solaja in Alexandria
With the lone goal win in the opening match against Zimbabwe on Saturday night behind them, Super Eagles of Nigeria look set to be the first country to reach the second round phase of the AFCON 2019 tournament if they secure another win this afternoon against Syli Stars of Guinea.
The privilege to be the first country to reach the next stage is achievable, courtesy of early kick off of the Group B encounter which is ahead of other matches that could produce potential qualifiers later in the night.
The match at the 20,000 Alexandria Stadium, no doubt is the star match of the group considering the pedigree of the two nations in continental football although the Guineans are yet to win the precious title in all their years of participation.
After the 1-1 scoreline in their opening account against minnows, Madagascar, the French West African nation will have to contend with putting in their best and avoid any slip against Nigeria whom her coach Gernot Rohr had promised a good fight after a rather not too impressive performance against Burundi last Saturday.
“We had some sick players coming here because of the weather when we’re training in Asaba. But I believe they will be okay and we can have fully fit team against Guinea in our next match,” stressed Rohr ahead of the cracker today.
The team is also boosted by the return of Samuel Kalu who has been declared fit to play for the team after his health problem last Friday before the opening match.
“Kalu had a problem on Friday when he fell sick as we are doing some drills on corner kicks. He was rushed to the hospital and fortunately, the doctors said it was a problem of dehydration and not heart problem as many speculated.
“He is okay now and the morale of my players is very high and ready to move mountain against any opposition here including Guinea whom we face next,” the Franco/German tactician told journalists yesterday.
However, for the opposing coach Paul Put, he has a score to settle with Super Eagles going by the previous encounter against Nigeria in the competition.
While in charge of Stallions of Burkina Faso in 2013 edition of the tournament in South Africa, he was able to level score at 1-1 at group stage against Late Stephen Keshi’s side but when both sides met again in the final match of the competition, it was Sunday Uba’s lone strike that gave Nigeria her third AFCON trophy win as against his then side who were gunning for their first continental glory.
A win for Super Eagles today and if Madagascar upset Burundi in the other group match tomorrow, Guinea will be in precarious situation of elimination or has to go through the banana skin of third best losers’ spot.
Later tonight, Egypt and Uganda could secure their respective passage into the next stage if the host win against DR Congo and Uganda do same with the match with Zimbabwe.
NIGERIA VS GUINEA
P W D L GF GA
Nigeria 14 4 6 4 17 14
Guinea 14 4 6 4 14 17