Nigeria’s Super Eagles will have a tough knot to crack as they host the Desert Foxes of Algeria in a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo on Saturday.
Both teams knows that a victory could put them in a pole position of taking command of group B, after the Super Eagles defeated the Chipolopolo of Zambia 2-1 in Ndola to top the log with three points while Algeria were held 1-1 by Cameroon in Algiers to remain on one point apiece.
The encounter would give Nigeria’s technical adviser, Genort Rohr another opportunity to sink his name into the hearts of football lovers in Nigeria, having started his managerial career with the senior national team on a winning note; first against Tanzania and then Zambia.
There is no doubt that both teams parade some of the best of players in Africa, of which the Super Eagles will be counting on the services of Kelechi Iheanacho, Alex Iwobi, Odion Ighalo, Mikel Obi and Victor Moses to shoulder the goal scoring responsibility against the Algerian side. While newly appointed Fennecs coach, Georges Leekens would be banking on Riyad Mahrez, Islam Slimani and Yacine Brahimi to create and hopefully covert their chances against Nigeria.
On the injury side, Nigeria’s Carl Ikeme will miss the encounter due to a hip injury he copped in Wolves 1-1 draw against Blackburn Rovers in a Championship match while Soudani Al Hilal, Rachid Ghezzal, Ryad Boudebouz and Faouzi Ghoulam will also be absent due to injuries also.
It is expected that the Desert Foxes would apply a 4-3-3 approach in a bid to counter the Super Eagles on the break and soaking the pressure once they score first.
Statistically, there have been 17 clashes between both teams (all at competitive level), with Nigeria winning eight times, drawing three and losing six.
Meanwhile, Super Eagles captain, Mikel Obi says he’s optimistic the team will pick the maximum points against Algeria regardless of how they play in Uyo.
“We all know what this match means, why we have to give everything. Yes, we started the race well by winning in Zambia, but we have to approach this match even more seriously.
“The Algerians will come with determination and they will play hard, but we will play harder.
“The World Cup is the biggest stage; every player wants to be there. I am happy we have such a young and energetic team. I played at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014 but there are many of these players who have never been to the World Cup. They want to be there,’’ Obi said.
In the same vein, Rohr has urged the Nigerian fans to come out enmass to support the team to victory on Saturday against Algeria.
“The fans should help us to win this game,” urged Rohr. “What I can assure everyone is that the team will fight on the pitch, they will give everything. We will have a big game.”
Besides, Algeria’s Riyad Mehrez has revealed that his team wouldn’t be happy with anything short of victory against the Super Eagles.
“We will do everything necessary to get this qualification and it will require a win against Nigeria we are determined more than ever to return home with the victory,” Mahrez posted on Facebook.
“Our team is made up of warriors and brothers and we will prove it on the field to make all people of Algeria proud.”
This season, Mahrez has scored 4 goals (3 assists) in 16 appearances across all competitions for Liecester City.