In a high-stakes showdown for a spot in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, Nigeria and Sierra Leone will clash in Monrovia.
This battle between the second and third teams in Group A will determine which side secures a ticket to Ivory Coast next year.
With Guinea Bissau claiming the top spot following their 1-0 victory over Sao Tome & Principe, both Nigeria and Sierra Leone need a positive result to keep their qualification hopes alive.
Nigeria enter the match with three wins out of four games in Group A, including a 2-1 triumph over Sierra Leone in the reverse fixture held in Abuja last year.
The only defeat for the three-time African champions came in a shock home loss against Guinea-Bissau in March, but they quickly bounced back with a narrow 1-0 win over the same opponents.
However, Nigeria have struggled to find consistent success, with only one victory in their last five matches across all competitions.
Sierra Leone have proven to be a tough opponent in this qualification campaign, with Nigeria being the only team to defeat them so far.
Although Sierra Leone missed a chance to boost their position by drawing with the group’s underdogs, Sao Tome and Principe, at home, they managed to secure a 2-0 away victory against the same opponents.
To boost their chances of qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations, Sierra Leone must overcome Nigeria in this crucial match.
Historically, Nigeria have dominated Sierra Leone in these encounters. Out of 17 clashes, the Super Eagles have emerged victorious in ten and drawn five, suffering only two losses.
Sierra Leone’s last win over Nigeria came in a 1-0 victory during a FIFA World Cup qualifier in 2001. Since then, Nigeria have claimed four wins and two draws out of their six meetings.
Nigeria will face the match without their first-choice goalkeeper Francis Uzoho, who is suspended.
Head coach Jose Peseiro has called up two Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) shot-stoppers and Israel-based Adeleye Adebayo as replacements, with Adebayo expected to take the gloves.
While Nigeria boast a strong defensive and midfield lineup, their attacking prowess remains their greatest asset.
Despite not including the prolific trio of Victor Boniface, Gift Orban, and Paul Onuachu, the Super Eagles will rely on the formidable forward line led by Victor Osimhen, the top goalscorer in the Afcon qualifiers.
Osimhen will receive support from Nottingham Forest striker Taiwo Awoniyi and Kelechi Iheanacho, who was named Leicester City’s Player of the Season.
Sierra Leone will face a daunting task in stopping Nigeria’s potent attack.
Game: Africa Cup of Nations qualifier, Group A
Match: Sierra Leone vs Nigeria
Date: Sunday, June 18, 2023
Venue: Samuel Kanyon Doe Sports Complex
Kickoff time: 5 pm (Nigeria time)
With Nigeria holding a strong historical advantage over Sierra Leone and boasting a formidable attacking lineup, they are expected to have the upper hand in this crucial encounter.
However, Sierra Leone’s resilience and determination cannot be underestimated, and they will put up a fight to secure their spot in the Africa Cup of Nations.
The stage is set for an intense battle between two competitive sides vying for glory.