Nigeria’s Super Eagles aim to finish top of Group B of the Africa Cup of Nations by beating Madagascar today at the Alexandria Stadium in Egypt.
Even though a draw is good enough to consolidate top spot in the group, the Eagles are looking to post a win to keep confidence high and sound a warning to other contenders in Egypt.
The competition for places in the Nigerian team means sunday won’t be easy for Madagascar, who have so far exceeded expectations in their debut AFCON appearance.
A creditable draw against Guinea and a win over Burundi mean the island nation have virtually qualified for the round of 16. A draw today cements second position, while a win sees them top the group.
Today’s fixture will represent the fifth meeting between the two nations, and Madagascar are yet to register a win or a goal against three-time African champions Nigeria.
Nigeria were held to a goalless draw back in 2000, but they have since netted five goals without reply in the last three contests. However, it has been almost eight years since the teams met during qualifying for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.
The Super Eagles have struggled for goals over the past eight months, and their lack of a clinical touch has the potential to undermine their overall performances in this tournament.
However, two 1-0 wins have put them in a strong position to win this group, with anything less than that deemed to be a setback when considering where they would prefer to be placed in the knockout stages.
Madagascar will provide a different type of opponent today, one which may look to frustrate Nigeria. However, there remains a gulf in class between the teams, and this is an opportunity for the Eagles to rediscover their scoring touch in the final third.
Given their creative options, it remains a mystery why an effective combination has not been found thus far, but Rohr will feel comfortable knowing that he has depth on the bench in attacking positions.