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Super Eagles Face Equatorial Guinea in AFCON 2023 Opener Amidst Challenges



As Nigeria’s Super Eagles prepare for their AFCON 2023 opener against Equatorial Guinea on Sunday, January 14, at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan, uncertainties loom over the once heavily favored team.

Despite Nigeria’s rich history in the tournament, recent challenges, including injuries to key players and late withdrawals, have disrupted their preparations, setting the stage for a more level playing field against Equatorial Guinea.

In the goalkeeping department, Francis Uzoho maintains his position as the number-one choice for coach Jose Peseiro, while defenders Semi Ajayi, William Troost-Ekong, Calvin Bassey, Bruno Onyemaechi, and Zaidu Sanusi compete for pivotal roles in the backline.

The absence of key midfielder Wilfred Ndidi poses a challenge for Nigeria’s midfield, with Frank Onyeka, Raphael Onyedika, and Alhassan Yusuf presenting varied skill sets. Coach Peseiro might opt for a midfield pivot strategy for solidity.

In the creative hub, Alex Iwobi is expected to take the lead, while Moses Simon continues his impactful role on the left wing. Nigeria’s attack faces a crisis with injuries ruling out key players like Kelechi Iheanacho, Victor Boniface, and Umar Sadiq. Victor Osimhen remains the sole fit center-forward, with support expected from versatile Ademola Lookman.

The encounter marks the first meeting between Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea in the AFCON, with the Super Eagles holding a favorable record in other competitions.

Possible Nigeria XI: Uzoho; Osayi-Samuel, Ajayi, Troost-Ekong, Bassey; Onyeka, Alhassan, Iwobi, Simon; Lookman, Osimhen (4-4-2). The Super Eagles aim to secure three crucial points in this challenging opening match of AFCON 2023.

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