The South Americans and the West Africans lock horns in the first-ever meeting between the two nations
The Super Eagles will look to end a run of four games without a victory when they face Ecuador’s La Tri in a friendly match at New Jersey’s Red Bull Arena on Thursday.
The Nigerian national team stumbled against Mexico’s El Tri on Sunday, losing 2-1 at the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas courtesy of Santiago Gimenez’s first-half strike and an unfortunate William Troost-Ekong own-goal.
Feyenoord forward Cyriel Dessers scored Nigeria’s only goal in that encounter, the 27-year-old’s first-ever goal in the green-and-white kit.
The Eagles go again tomorrow against Ecuador and would be in search of their first win since a 2-0 triumph over Guinea-Bissau in the group stages of the Africa Cup of Nations tournament.
In Ecuador, Nigeria face a team equally short on confidence at the moment.
La Tricolor are on a run of five games without a win, recording four draws and a loss.
But a 2-0 win over Chile last November and recent draws with Brazil and Argentina show the Ecuadorians can mix it well with the big boys.
Gustavo Alfaro’s men will also be in Qatar later in the year for the 2022 FIFA World Cup – a tournament Nigeria failed to qualify for.
And despite being ranked 46th on the FIFA world ranking, La Tri will fancy their chances of returning to winning ways when they take to the pitch against the 30th-ranked Super Eagles.
This is the first meeting between Nigeria’s Super Eagles and Ecuador’s La Tricolor.
However, the West Africans’ recent record in friendly games does not inspire much confidence.
The Eagles have not tasted victory in ten consecutive friendly encounters, managing five draws and suffering five defeats in the last three years.
The 2013 Afcon winners will have to pull their acts together against an Ecuador side that has carved three wins in six of their recent friendlies.
Super Eagles team news
Head coach Jose Peseiro could only call on 20 players for Sunday’s matchup against Mexico.
Watford’s in-demand striker Emmanuel Dennis has since joined the squad to provide one more option for the Portuguese tactician in the attack.
Cyriel Dessers should, however, continue in attack after impressing and scoring on Sunday.
The NFF has confirmed that Torino’s Ola Aina is out with a knock, leaving Chidozie Awaziem to pick up the right-back slot.
Alex Iwobi and Joe Aribo’s partnership in midfield needs more playing time to prosper. And stand-in captain William Troost-Ekong, despite his own goal, is expected to marshal the defence in front of goalkeeper Francis Uzoho.
Ecuador’s danger man
La Tri coach Alfaro has called up 25 players for this match, including Samuel Chukwueze’s Villarreal teammate full-back Pervis Estupian.
Brighton & Hove Albion duo of midfielder Moises Caicedo and forward Jeremy Sarmiento, as well as Bayer Leverkusen defender Piero Hincapie, are key players for the South Americans.
Their biggest star, however, remains former West Ham striker Enner Valencia.
The Fenerbahce ace is his country’s most prolific goalscorer with 35 goals in 70 games, and he will look to test his strength and pace against Troost-Ekong and co.
Nigeria possible starting lineup:
Uzoho; Awaziem, Ajayi, Troost-Ekong, Bassey; Simon, Aribo, Iwobi, Dennis; Dessers, Moffi
Ecuador possible starting lineup:
Galindez; Castillo, Hincapie, Arboleda, Estupinan; Franco, Caicedo, Alvarado, Plata; Campana, Valencia
Ecuador will target a third-ever victory over African opposition, but they should meet their match in three-time continental champions Nigeria.
Nigeria are short of their regular first-team players but should have enough quality to nick a narrow win over their opponents.
Tip: Ecuador 0-1 Nigeria