In a repeat of the David and Goliath match-up, Sao Tome and Principe will aim to shock the football world and record the most important win in their history by beating their more illustrious foes on a neutral ground
Nigeria will trade tackles with the tiny island nation of Sao Tome and Principe on Monday, June 13, in a matchday two fixture of Group A’s 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign.
With a population roughly the size of Apapa, one of the smallest local government areas in Lagos, Nigeria, Sao Tome & Principle (183rd) face a behemoth in the former African champions (30th), 153 places above them on the FIFA ranking.
The Super Eagles barely got out of first gear on matchday one but had enough quality to come from behind and inflict a 2-1 defeat on Sierra Leone inside the MKO Stadium In Abuja.
Everton’s Alex Iwobi cancelled Jonathan Morsay’s 11th-minute header with a deft finish before Napoli’s Victor Osimhen smashed home the winner moments before halftime for the Eagles’ tenth-ever win over the Leone Stars.
Sao Tome & Principe had it worse on the same day, stumbling to a 5-1 defeat in Guinea-Bissau despite taking an early lead through Edmílson Viegas.
The Sao Tomeans face an even sterner test when they file out against three-time African champions, Super Eagles.
The game in Agadir will be the first-ever matchup between the two teams as Nigeria’s Super Eagles have never met the Falcons and Patriot Team of Sao Tome & Principe.
It is no surprise as the Falcons seldom mix it up against the big sides. The Islanders have never qualified for the FIFA World Cup or the Africa Cup of Nations.
Still, the Sao Tomeans boast a poor record, with Mauritius the only team they have drawn against or beaten in the last six years, losing 17 of 21 matches within that period.
Nigeria, though, ended a run of five matches without a win with Thursday’s 2-1 victory over Sierra Leone.
With nine wins and three draws in their last 12 Afcon qualifiers, the Super Eagles are the massive favourites to pick up the maximum points in Morocco.
Even though they are the designated home team, Sao Tome & Principe will host this game at the Stade d’Agadir in Morocco, as the island nation has no stadium fit to accommodate a match of this nature.
Africa Cup of Nations Qualification
Game week 2
Date: June 13, 2022
Time: 14:00 (2 pm, Nigerian time)
Venue: Stade d’Agadir, Agadir, Morocco.
Super Eagles team news
Nigeria will miss the services of stand-in captain William Troost-Ekong. The Watford defender hobbled off with an injury in the closing minutes of the Super Eagles’ clash with the Leone Stars.
Aside from Lorient midfielder Innocent Bonke, head coach Jose Peseiro has the full complement of invited stars and will look to unleash the best against the Patriot Team.
Nigeria probable starting lineup (4-4-2):
Uzoho; Aina, Balogun, Ajayi, Bassey; Iwobi, Aribo, Simon, Chukwueze; Osimhen, Sadiq
Sao Tome & Principe possible starting lineup (4-4-2):
Braganca; Soares, Ivonaldo Viegas, Nilton, Nazare; Iniesta, Aldair, Eba Viegas, Edmilson Viegas; Rocha, Leal.
Nothing is impossible in football but expecting a win for São Tomé and Príncipe, the second-smallest and second-least populous African sovereign state after Seychelles, against three-time Afcon champions Nigeria is asking for too much.
Anything short of a dominant victory for the Super Eagles would be a disaster.
Tip: Sai Tome & Principe 1 – 4 Nigeria