One of Africa’s biggest football rivalries will be ignited Friday night at the Baba Yara Stadium, Kumasi as Ghana’s Black Stars will be battling it out against Nigeria’s Super Eagles
Apart from the bragging rights, the stakes are quite higher in this latest installment of the ‘Jollof Derby’ as a ticket to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar is up for grabs for whoever prevails.
Smarting from their recent unimpressive outing at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, the two countries are keen on winning back the support of their fans by qualifying for Qatar.
This definitely will banish the disappointment of the last continental tournament in Cameroon.
Going into Friday’s clash, the Super Eagles have won three of their past five matches and drawn one with the other ending in a defeat.
For the Black Stars, they have been poor; losing three games, drawing one, and winning one in their last five outings.
Matches of this magnitude are often won by the most determined team on the night with the form guide playing a less significant role.
Nigeria has the players but Ghana boast a richer history in this rivalry-one country has to give this evening in Kumasi.
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Kickoff is 8.30 p.m.
Coach Eguavoen goes with Bonke as Ndidi’s replacement
A leaked Super Eagles lineup shows that Coach Augustine Eguavoen has gone with FC Lorient’s Innocent Bonke as the replacement for the injured Wilfred Ndidi. Bonke will be winning his third cap for the Super Eagles in the Kumasi cauldron.
Coach Eguavoen has thrown his confidence behind most of the starters from the last AFCON tournament. Another change is in goal where Francis Uzoho replaces the Covid-stricken Maduka Okoye. There is no place for the returning Oghenekaro Etebo while Kelechi Iheanacho will play behind in-form Victor Osimhen.
The Super Eagles 11 to start against the Black Stars
Francis Uzoho – The 2018 World Cup starter has been playing second fiddle to Okoye since he returned from injury. Uzoho stars for Omonoia Nicosia in the Cyprus top division and he will win his 20th cap against Ghana.
Ola Aina – Aina was one of the best performers for the Eagles in Cameroon in January but the 25-year-old Torino defender could be short of match fitness as his last competitive match was for Nigeria against Tunisia on January 23.
Leon Balogun – The oldest outfield player on the Super Eagles roster at 33 has been playing regularly for his Scottish side, Rangers. He will be the defender tasked with progressing the ball from defence.
Williams Troost Ekong – Another whose match fitness is suspect. The Watford defender has not played since Nigeria’s ouster by Tunisia. He will captain the Eagles on his 59th appearance.
Zaidu Sanusi – The Porto left-back will be expected to overlap whenever he gets the opportunity but the major task for the 24-year-old, winning his 11th cap will be to hold his position and deny crosses into the box.
Innocent Bonke – Bonke replaces Ndidi and that is a huge responsibility on a player winning just his third cap and one who has played just one 90 minutes for the Eagles though he boasts two victories from his two appearances.
Samuel Chukwueze – Now a bonafide senior member of the team, the Villarreal U-17 World Cup winner will be expected to prove a constant menace to the Black Stars down the right flank. He will be winning his 24th cap.
Kelechi Iheanacho – With 11 goals in 42 appearances, Iheanacho ranks third for goals in the current Super Eagles team. He will be needed to put in a shift and deny space to the Black Stars in midfield even as he tries to provide killer passes for Osimhen.
Joseph Aribo – Another relative newbie to matches in Africa but the 25-year-old midfielder proved his worth during the last AFCON. He will provide box-to-box energy and is also a goal threat.
Moses Simon – The Eagles for the AFCON. His form has also been good for Nantes in Ligue 1. If he can unshackle himself from his market then the Eagles will be in business. The 26-year-old will also be keen to add to his six goals in 48 appearances.
Victor Osimhen – The man many Nigerians are looking to for the goals to beat the Black Stars. Osimhen has scored nine goals in 17 caps and comes into the match having scored four goals for Napoli in their last two matches. The 23-year-old will look to improve his scoring stats for the Eagles in Kumasi.
The kick-off is 8:30 pm at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi.