Nigeria and Sao Tome & Principe draw the curtain in Group A of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers when they face off at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium on Sunday, Reelradio.com.ng reports.
The Super Eagles cruised to an emphatic 10-0 victory when the sides squared off at the Stade Adrar in last year’s reverse fixture and will be aiming for a repeat of the same in front of their home supporters.
The hosts have enjoyed a largely solid qualification campaign, qualifying for a third consecutive AFCON finals. Nigeria beat Sierra Leone 3-2 in their last game, squandering a two-goal lead in the second half, before Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho scored a late goal to clinch all three points. Nigeria are atop qualifying group A with 12 points from five games.
Sao Tome and Principe, meanwhile, have endured another wretched AFCON qualifying campaign as they miss out on the finals again. They lost 1-0 to Guinea-Bissau last time out, falling behind early after the restart and failing to find a way back.
Nigeria confirmed their spot in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations on June 18 when they scraped a 3-2 victory over a resilient Sierra Leone side at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex.
After falling two goals behind courtesy of a first-half brace from Victor Osimhen, John Keister‘s men found their way back into the game through goals from Mustapha Bundu and Augustus Kargbo, but Kelechi Iheanacho struck in the 95th minute to hand the Super Eagles all three points.
Prior to that, Nigeria snapped their run of five consecutive defeats across all competitions on March 27, when they beat Guinea-Bissau 1-0 at the Estadio 24 de Setembro thanks to a first-half penalty from Moses Simon.
Nigeria, who are looking to conquer the continent for the fourth time and the first since their 2013 triumph, have now won four of their five games in the qualifiers, with a 1-0 loss against Guinea-Bissau on March 24 being the exception.
The Super Eagles are one of 18 sides to have already booked their spot in Ivory Coast as they lead the way in Group A with a seven-point cushion over third-placed Sierra Leone heading into the final group game.
Meanwhile, Sao Tome & Principe’s quest for their maiden Africa Cup of Nations appearance has come to naught once again as they find themselves rooted to the bottom of the table after a truly bizarre qualifying campaign.
Adriano Eusebio‘s men have lost four of five games in Group A, with a thrilling 2-2 draw against Sierra Leone at the Stade Adrar on March 22 being the only exception.
This poor run can be pinned to their frailty at the defensive end of the pitch, where they hold the worst record in the qualifiers having shipped a staggering 20 goals in their five matches.
Sao Tome & Principe head into the weekend without a win in 17 games on the spin across all competitions, losing 16 and claiming one draw since a 2-1 victory over Libya in the AFCON qualifiers back in March 2016.
Nigeria have called up 23 players for this weekend’s showdown, with the likes of Osimhen, Kelechi Iheanacho, Wilfred Ndidi and skipper William Troost-Ekong headlining the squad.
Taiwo Awoniyi boasts a goal involvement in each of his last eight Premier League games and also earned a spot in the team while Ahmed Musa, who is the nation’s most-capped player, has been left out.
Musa is one of several high-profile names omitted by Peseiro, alongside full-back Zaidu Sanusi and newly-signed Fulham midfielder Alex Iwobi, who is currently recuperating from an injury.
There are also a few new faces in the Super Eagles squad, with centre-back Jordan Torunarigha and the attacking duo of Victor Boniface and Gift Orban in line to make their debuts.
Meanwhile, Eusebio has named a 21-man list for the clash against the Super Eagles, including goalkeeper Pedro Mateus, midfielder Denilson Silva and veteran striker Luis Leal.
Leal, who is currently the Selecao’s all-time leading scorer, should spearhead the attack once again, forming the front three with Amora FC man Ebanilson Viegas and Marcos Barbeiro.
Nigeria vs Sao Tome and Principe Head-to-Head and Key Numbers
- This will be the second meeting between the two times since their reverse fixture in June last year, which the Super Eagles won 10-0.
- Nigeria (16) are the most prolific scoring side in the AFCON qualifiers.
- Sao Tome are without a clean sheet in 19 games across competitions since 2015.
- The visitors have the worst defensive record in the continental qualifiers, conceding 20 times.
Super Eagles Possible Starting XI:
Uzhoho; Aina, Troost-Ekong, Ajayi, Bassey; Onyeka, Ndidi, Aribo; Chukwueze, Iheanacho, Osimhen
Sao Tome & Principe Possible Starting XI:
Mendes; Fernandes, Varela, Ramos, Soares; Santos, Silva, Selemane; Leal, Viegas, Barbeiro
PREDICTION: Nigeria 6-0 Sao Tome & Principe
Nigeria hammered Sao Tome & Principe 10-0 in the reverse fixture back in June 2022 and the Selecao are in for another gruesome 90 minutes against a star-studded Super Eagles side. Sao Tome’s form is currently nothing to write home about and we see the three-time African champions coming away with another huge victory.