Nigeria will reach the Round of 16 of the 32nd Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt if the Super Eagles put the Syli Nationale of Guinea to the sword in their second match of the tournament today.
The match starts at 4.30pm Egypt time, which is 3.30pm in Nigeria.
Guinea’s unexpected 2-2 draw against debutants Madagascar on Day 1, for which both teams shared a point each, means any team that harnesses six points in Group B would most certainly progress to the knockout rounds.
The availability of France–based forward, Samuel Kalu, who can also play as wing back, has provided further options for Coach Gernot Rohr for today’s clash between the fierce West African rivals at the Alexandria Stadium.
Kalu elicited jubilation in the Nigerian camp on Monday evening, after further tests in Cairo cleared him to play at the AFCON 2019, following a scare after he fell during training session and was stabilised before being taken to hospital on Friday. The incident ruled him out of last Saturday’s clash with Burundi. Kalu can fit into the right side of the attack, where he dazzled against Seychelles on Mahe Island, in a qualifying match in September 2018, and against Libya, home and away the following month, and can equally hold firm as wing back, as he did against South Africa in the penultimate qualifier in November 2018.
While AFCON 2019 is Nigeria’s 18th appearance (today’s encounter will be their 88th match); Guinea is showing up here for the 13th time. Nigeria has won the title three times, finished in second place five times and picked up the bronze medals seven times. Guinea has only a runners-up place to show for their endeavour, back in 1976, when the tournament was held based on a league format.
Honours are even in 14 previous matches between both countries, with Nigeria winning four times, Guinea winning four times and six matches drawn. Some of the games had been nail–biting affairs, including a 1982 World Cup qualifying match in Lagos in April 1981, in which Henry Nwosu’s 88thminute winner separated both teams over two legs, and the 2012 AFCON qualifier that ended 2-2 in Abuja, in October 2011, with Ibrahim Diallo’s last minute equaliser stopping Nigeria from reaching the finals.