The Super Eagles of Nigeria and the Teranga Lions of Senegal will Thursday night get busy in an international friendly, and the expectations is that there will be fireworks going by the pedigree of both sides.
Despite visa glitches that led to a couple of late arrivals for some of the invited players, the stage nonetheless is set for two of Africa’s best teams to test their might in a foreign land.
Among other things, the Super Eagles and the Teranga Lions will use Thursday’s game to test their readiness for the start of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations as well as the resumption of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Senegal is looking to get back on track after failing to live to their billing at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon where they could not go past the quarter finals despite being tipped as one of the favourites for the trophy.
With the disappointing show already put behind them, Coach Aliou Cisse knows he has to get the Lions back on winning ways for another shot at the Africa Cup of Nations and the World Cup.
To highlight the importance attached to the Nigeria game, Coach Cisse has assembled a crack squad that includes Liverpool’s Sadio Mane, Kara Mbodji of Anderlecht and Cheikou Kouyate while handing maiden call-ups to Moussa Wagué (Eupen), Adama Mbengue (Orlando City) and ex-France U-20 international Opa Nguette (Metz).
On the part of Nigeria, Gernot Rohr has continued his revamping of the Super Eagles inviting several new faces to bolster his young and enterprising team.
Three–time African champions Nigeria take on 2002 FIFA World Cup quarter finalists Senegal at The Hive, home ground of Barnet Football Club by 8p.m., and will be up against 2013 Africa Cup of Nations Final victims Burkina Faso at the same venue and time on Monday, March 27.
The Nigeria Football Federation and its FIFA Match Agent, Jairo Pachon of Eurodata Sport arranged both matches as preparation for the Super Eagles for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying series starting in June, as well as the remaining matches of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying race.
Nigeria perch with relative comfort at the top of Group B of the African race for Russia 2018, with the maximum six points from two matches, while next opponents Cameroon, who visit Nigeria late August and then host the Eagles six days later, are in second place but four points adrift. Algeria and Zambia are the other teams in the group.
Goalkeepers: Carl Ikeme (Wolverhampton Wanderers, England); Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United, South Africa); Ikechukwu Ezenwa (FC Ifeanyiubah)
Defenders: Leon Balogun (FSV Mainz 05, Germany); William Troost Ekong (KAA Gent, Belgium); Kenneth Omeruo (Alanyaspor FC, Turkey); Uche Henry Agbo (Granada FC, Spain); Abdullahi Shehu (Anorthosis Famagusta, Cyprus); Musa Muhammed (FC Zeljeznicar, Bosnia-Herzegovina); Tyronne Ebuehi (ADO Den Haag, The Netherlands); Elderson Echiejile (Sporting Gijon, Spain); Kingsley Madu (Zulte Waregem, Belgium); Chidozie Awaziem (FC Porto, Portugal)
Midfielders: Ogenyi Onazi (Trabzonspor FC, Turkey); Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City, England); Oghenekaro Etebo (CD Feirense, Portugal); John Ogu (Hapoel Be’er Sheva, Israel)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Leicester City, England); Kelechi Iheanacho (Manchester City, England); Moses Simon (KAA Gent, Belgium);Olanrewaju Kayode (Austria Wein) Alex Iwobi (Arsenal FC, England); Isaac Success (Watford FC, England); Noah Joel Bazee (Hannover 96, Germany)
Goalkeepers: Abdoulaye Diallo, Khadim Ndiaye, Pape Seydou Ndiaye
Defenders: Kara Mbodj, Saliou Ciss, Lamine Gassama, Kalidou Koulibaly, Moussa Wagué, Zargo Toure, Adama Mbengue, Cheikh Mbengue
Midfielders: Henry Saivet, Idrissa Gana Gueye, Cheikhou Kouyate, Pape Alioune Ndiaye, Salif Sané, Alfred Ndiaye, Cheikh Ndoye
Forwards: Sadio Mané, Moussa Sow, Diao Baldé Keïta, Mame Biram Diouf, Ismaîla Sarr, Opa Nguette, Famara Diediou, Babacar Khouma Gueye.