The Super Eagles of Nigeria square off against Saudi Arabia at the Estadio Municipal De Portimao in Portugal on Friday.
The game is quite inconsequential, but it is a top friendly as it could affect Nigeria’s FIFA rankings. Also, it is a preparatory game for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in January next year.
Coach Jose Peseiro invited a 25-man squad for the game, with only Hatayspor forward Fisayo Dele-Bashiru as the only new player.
Given Peseiro’s history, Peseiro is expected to field a strong XI because the Africa Cup of Nations is just three months away, and he would be looking to build understanding in the team. Still, he could add a few tweaks to get the best lineup for the AFCON.
Soccernet predicts Nigeria’s starting eleven for the fixture.
Goalkeeper: Francis Uzoho is expected to remain the number one shot-stopper for Nigeria. Maduka Okoye has not gotten a lot of game time in the last 15 months, and it would be risky to start him, given the fact that he has not been trustworthy in Nigeria’s goal.
DEFENDERS: In Nigeria’s last three games, Semi Ajayi has started, so he is expected to keep his shirt in centre defence. With his return to the squad, Kenneth Omeruo is expected to partner Ajayi.
The Kasimpasa man is one of the longest-serving Nigerian players, and Peseiro would want to have an experienced man at the back.
Fenerbahce man Bright Osayi-Samuel should start at right back. He is currently one of the top right-backs in Europe, and he is having a blast of a season in Turkey. He offers a serious attacking threat and is quite solid defensively.
Fulham defender Calvin Bassey will likely start at left-back because of Jamilu Collins and Zaidu Sanusi’s absence. He has been playing as a centre-back at Fulham, but at Rangers and Ajax, he played as a fullback.
MIDFIELD: Leicester City man Wilfred Ndidi, who has had a superb season, will keep his place in defensive midfield. Alex Iwobi, who missed Nigeria’s last game against Sao Tome and Principe, is expected to return to the starting lineup. Then, Raphael Onyedika should complete the midfield trio to add some solidity and stealth.
ATTACK: Napoli star boy Victor Osimhen should keep his place in the starting lineup. AC Milan attacker Samuel Chukwueze, who started from the bench in the last game against Sao Tome and Principe, should also return to the starting eleven.
Then, in form Nantes man Moses Simon will start from the left side of the attack.
The Saudis gave a good account of themselves at the last World Cup, and Nigeria have to be wary of the threat that they possess.