The Super Eagles can feel the quarter-final tie against Zambia or Mali but first they have to get a result against the Syli Stars of Guinea, who can qualify for the second round if they beat their Nigerian opponents.
So, it is a dilemma of sorts for Sunday Oliseh – should he play on the counter or seize the initiative and take the game to the Guineans? If he wants to top the group, then a victory has to be the goal, but if he wants to rest some key players, then he would be playing for a draw.
But here are three things that are surely to happen when both teams file out on the Rubavu Stadium pitch:
Guineans will try to get an early goal
Guinea are capable of scoring as they have showed in their two matches – with four goals, even though they have also shown that the defense can be got at with the four goals they have also conceded. So the Eagles should expect their west African neighbours to go full blast from the off. They will only be able to counter if they have had a proper pre-match schedule to handle the pace of the game from the moment the referee blows to kick off the match with Alseny Camara particularly dangerous.
It will be a physical battle
These are two powerful nations physically and it will count for something on Tuesday. All the Eagles’ players chosen must be ready for the physical battle as no quarters will be given. The Eagles also have to be wary of the use of long balls and goalkeeper, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, must be protected by his central defenders from being buffeted at every opportunity.
The referee needs to be strong
Moroccan referee, Noureddine El Jaafari, will be counted on to do the needful so that the game does not get out of hand. He needs to protect the players from going over the top with the physical nature though he will also be advised to allow the game to flow.
The Eagles are currently ranked lower than Guinea [66 – 50] but they have played reasonably better than Guinea in their first two matches but more will be expected of them against a Guinean team that is not highly ranked amongst football leagues in Africa.
Nigeria’s last 5 matches
17/10/15 ANC Nigeria 2 – 0 Burkina Faso
25/10/15 ANC Burkina Faso 0 – 0 Nigeria
13/11/15 WQA Swaziland 0 – 0 Nigeria
17/11/15 WQA Nigeria 2 – 0 Swaziland
18/01/16 ANC Nigeria 4 – 1 Niger
22/01/16 ANC Nigeria 1 – 1 Tunisia
Guinea’s last 5 matches
24/10/15 ANC Senegal 3 – 1 Guinea
12/11/15 WQA Namibia 0 – 1 Guinea
15/11/15 WQA Guinea 2 – 0 Namibia
18/01/16 ANC Tunisia 2 – 2 Guinea
22/01/16 ANC Niger 2 – 2 Guinea