The Super Eagles of Nigeria will be aiming to end their 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers on a winning note when they square off against Sao Tome and Principe on Sunday.
Jose Peseiro will have key decisions to make in selecting the first eleven that will play against Sao Tome and Principe in Nigeria’s final 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier on Sunday, Soccernet.ng reports.
The three-time African champions are home and dry in the qualifications, having secured their place in the continental showpiece which will be hosted in Ivory Coast next year with a game to spare.
Peseiro’s side has dominated their group so far, with the only blemish coming in their 0-1 home defeat to Guinea Bissau at the Abuja National Stadium in March, but have since rallied back to claim victory with the same scoreline in the return leg in Bissau before a 2-3 win over Sierra Leone guaranteed their place in Ivory Coast next year.
The Super Eagles will now be looking to end the qualifications on a winning note when they host Sao Tome and Principe at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium on Sunday. The first leg ended in a 10-0 victory for Nigeria in Agadir, Morocco over a year ago.
Following the release of the 23-man team to play the dead rubber match against the Falcons and Parrots on Sunday, there are key decisions for coach Jose Peseiro to make in deciding his first eleven to start the game as the likes of Gift Orban, Jordan Torunarigha, and Victor Boniface have been handed their first call-up to the national side.
Here are five decisions the Portuguese will have to make in choosing his starting eleven for the tie against the Central African country.
1. Who should lead the line: (Osimhen, Awoniyi, Orban, Iheanacho, and Boniface)
With the start of the 2023 AFCON tournament in a few months, Peseiro will be aiming to use the matches the team will be playing before then in perfecting his squad for the showpiece.
Bar any injury or a loss of form, Victor Osimhen should lead the line for the Super Eagles in Ivory Coast.
However, new invitees, Victor Boniface and Gift Orban, and the duo of Taiwo Awoniyi and Kelechi Iheanacho have to prove that they deserve a place in AFCON next year.
The decision for Peseiro to make is whether to give Osimhen a rest or give the above-named forwards a chance to prove themselves.
2. Who should be in goal: (Uzoho, Adeleye and Ojo)
This is another key decision for the 63-year-old to make in deciding who to start on Sunday between Francis Uzoho and Adebayo Adeleye.
Adeleye took his chance well in the 3-2 victory over Sierra Leone when Uzoho was absent due to suspension.
And with the start of the continental finals in a few months, Peseiro needs to decide who will be in goal against Sao and Tome Principe as the Portuguese will be using the dead rubber game in fine-tuning his squad ahead of the tournament.
3. Who should pair in center of the defense: (Torunarigha, Ekong, Ajayi, and Bassey)
The duo of Semi Ajayi and Kenneth Omeruo have been paired together in the last two games, but the absence of the latter for the tie, leaves Peseiro a decision to make on whether or not to stick with the West Brom defender, and If the answer is yes, who should he pair with him against the Falcons and Parrots on Sunday.
4. Who should start at left-back: (Collins or Onyemaechi)
In the absence of Zaidu Sanusi, who started the last two games for the team, one of Jamilu Collins or Bruno Onyemaechi will be given the nod for the left-back position.
Collins has returned to the starting eleven for Cardiff City following a long absence due to injury, while Onyemaechi has been excellent in Boavista’s impressive start to their Liga Portugal campaign.
5. Who should start at right-back: (Aina or Ebuehi)
In the absence of Bright Osayi-Samuel who started the right-back position in the last two matches, one of Ola Aina or Tyronne Ebuehi will take his place on Sunday.
Both Aina and Ebuehi have been regular starters for their clubs Nottingham Forest and Empoli this new season, and it should be an interesting battle between the two players to decide who will be the first choice for the position ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations finals in Ivory Coast next year.