2019 AFCON Qualifiers: Nigeria prey on group leaders Libya
Things will get heated in the men’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers over the next couple of days. We are spoiled with two legged fixtures (matchday 3 and 4) for all the participants with the first leg coming to our screens as early as Wednesday, 10th of October and the final matches of the second legs finishing one week later. This means that a crucial six points is up for grabs for all teams and also at risk of slipping away. Let’s look at some of the leading narratives leading into the much anticipated fixtures. No better place to start than in the West, where the 2018 FIFA World Cup participant seeks to take control of group E.
The Super Eagles of Nigeria had a rough start to their qualifying campaign as they succumbed to a 2-0 defeat to South Africa at home. Consequently, they find themselves heading into the Libya tie on third place with just 3 points bagged after humiliating lowly ranked Seychelles to a 3-0 thrashing in Victoria on matchday two. Only two teams will secure qualification for the 24-team finals scheduled to be held in Cameroon 2019 and Gernot Rohr’s men will be looking to get two over table topping Libya. The first match will be on Friday in Kaduna City, Nigeria and the return following just two days later on Monday.
At least one victory for the West Africans is fancied by neutrals as the 2012 AFCON champions are looking more fortified with the likes of high flying English Premier League based, Isaac Success returning to the squad and 22-year-old Alex Iwobi who has been one of Arsenal’s marvels under Unai Emery. The “governor” Ahmed Musa who has scored 3 goals in 3 appearances for Saudi Arabian side, Al Nassr will most likely captain the side in the absence of veteran John Obi Mikel who has been “excused” after picking up an injury in the Chinese Super League. Notable players also include young forward, Henry Onyekuru and world cup midfield specialist, Etebo who plays for Stoke City in the English Championship. Things are not looking well for Libya who have had their head coach, Adel Amrouche resigning over claims of unpaid wages and unhappiness amongst players over his methods, perhaps tipping the odds even more in favor of the Super Eagles. But as proven on matchday 2, odds really mean nothing in an AFCON qualifier.
Here is Nigeria’s full squad for the Libya clash:
Goalkeepers: Francis Uzoho (Elche FC/Spain), Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Enyimba, Nigeria), Daniel Akpeyi (Chippa United/South Africa)
Defenders: Ola Aina (Torino FC/Italy), Abdullahi Shehu (Bursaspor FC/Turkey), Semi Ajayi (Rotherham United/England), Brian Idowu (Lokomotiv Moscow/Russia), Chidozie Awaziem (FC Porto/Portugal), William Ekong (Udinese FC/Italy), Leon Balogun (Brighton & Hove Albion/England), Kenneth Omeruo (CD Leganes/Spain), Jamilu Collins (SC Padeborn 07/Germany)
Midfielders: Ogenyi Onazi (Trabzonspor FC/Turkey), Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City/England), Oghenekaro Etebo (Stoke City FC/England), John Ogu (Hapoel Be'er Sheva/Israel)
Forwards: Ahmed Musa (Al Nassr FC/Saudi Arabia), Kelechi Iheanacho (Leicester City/England), Moses Simon (Levante FC/Spain), Henry Onyekuru (Galatasaray SK/Turkey), Odion Ighalo (Changchun Yatai/China), Alex Iwobi (Arsenal/England), Samuel Kalu (Bordeaux/France), Isaac Success (Watford/England)