Nigeria round up their 2022 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign with a clash against Lesotho on Tuesday.
The Super Eagles have enjoyed a decent campaign winning three and losing none of their five group matches. The three-time continental champions sit top of Group L, boasting eleven points and the Afcon ticket already secured with a game to spare.
Tuesday’s guests, on the other hand, are stuck at the foot of the table with three points and no chance of making it to Cameroon 2022, leaving pride as the only prize left to fight for in this match.
But the Super Eagles are the big favourites to add another victory in the bag and make it two wins out of two in 2021. The Gernot Rohr-led side went winless last year, drawing three times and losing an October friendly to Algeria, but the team bulked that ugly trend with a hard-fought victory over the Benin Republic on Saturday.
Blessed with stars playing in the English Premier League, the Italian Serie A, and Spain’s La Liga, the three-time Afcon kings have the resources to overpower a team ranked 143rd in the world by FIFA.
Nigeria have faced Lesotho three times previously, winning all the matches with a 7-2 aggregate.
The last time the two sides met in November 2019, the Super Eagles rode on the goals of Napoli’s Victor Osimhen and Villarreal’s Samuel Chukwueze to a 4-2 away win.
Lesotho have never qualified for the finals of an Africa Cup of Nations tournament, and they will also not be present in next year’s competition.
Nigeria’s last Afcon success was in South Africa 2013, with the team only finishing in third place at the previous edition in Egypt.
Alex Iwobi missed the game against the Benin Republic after failing a coronavirus test, but there are indications that the Everton midfielder could be available for Lesotho.
Regardless, head coach Rohr has a team brimming with talent and high on confidence, and coming up with a winning eleven should be no fuss at all.
Genk’s Paul Onuachu was the hero in Porto Novo, coming off the bench to net a late winner for his country, and he could be tasked with leading the line alongside Osimhen.
Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi and Joe Aribo should continue in midfield. At the same time, Leon Balogun and William Troost-Ekong are near-certain to start together at the heart of the defence.
With qualification already assured, Rohr could give some playing time to fullbacks Tyronne Ebuehi and Jamilu Collins.
Lesotho only drew at home to Sierra Leone on Saturday, and Thabo Senong’s side will be aware that beating Nigeria away would be mission impossible.
Upsets in football are commonplace, though, and the Crocodiles will be motivated to pick a first-ever win over their more illustrious foe.
The match will be played at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos. Kickoff time is 5 pm Nigerian time.
Local stations NTA and AIT are expected to broadcast the game live.
Nigeria possible starting lineup:
Okoye; Ebuehi, Balogun, Troost-Ekong, Collins; Ndidi, Aribo, Chukwueze, Iwobi; Osimhen, Onuachu
Lesotho possible starting lineup:
Moearane; Malane, Mkwanazi, Lerotholi, Masiu; Kalake, Fothoane, Mokhachane, Ngatane; Motebang, Khutlang
The Super Eagles are unbeaten in Group L after five matches and are the heavy favourites ahead of their clash against the Crocodiles.
Nigeria’s two previous home games in this group against Benin (2-1) and Sierra Leone (4-4) have seen three goals or more, and another goal-filled encounter is expected on Tuesday.
Betting Tip: Nigeria to win and over 2.5 goals scored.