Nigeria are set to square off against Angola in the quarterfinals of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations match.
On paper, the clash between these two nations is a classic David and Goliath faceoff.
With an illustrious AFCON history, Nigeria boast three championships, four runner-up finishes, and a remarkable top-four placement in 15 out of their 19 previous appearances at the tournament.
In stark contrast, Angola is making only their ninth AFCON appearance, having reached the quarterfinals twice in the era when the competition featured 16 teams.
This year marks a historic turn for Angola, achieving their first knockout round victory and securing three consecutive wins for the first time in AFCON history.
This encounter, historically, would be a straightforward match for Nigeria, but the reality promises a challenging contest.
Both teams have displayed impressive form in Cote d’Ivoire, remaining unbeaten in four games, with three wins and one draw each.
Surprisingly, Angola hold a slight edge, having scored nine goals compared to Nigeria’s five.
However, the Super Eagles boast a robust defence, conceding only one goal in contrast to Angola’s three.
The goal-scoring brilliance of Angola’s main man, Gelson Dala, with four goals, contrasts with Nigeria’s top striker, Victor Osimhen, who has contributed one goal.
Despite the statistics, Angola’s coach, Pedro Gonçalves, acknowledges the strength of the Super Eagles but emphasises the Palancas Negras will not be scared of the former champions’ pedigree.
“Whoever arrived here has nothing to fear,” Pedro Gonçalves said, as per the FAF.
“Whoever arrived here has to feel immensely proud of the entire journey they have taken, of having gone through situations minimally typical of high sporting performance, but which never took our focus and never deviated from the path we wanted to follow.
“In fact, we are going to play against an extremely powerful team, but we look at this game from the perspective of opportunity; an opportunity that was achieved with a lot of work, a lot of sweat, a lot of resilience, a lot of focus and a lot of determination, especially from the players, but also from the entire staff, especially my entire technical team, who have always been determined and committed unsurpassable, highlighted the coach.
“We look at (the game) as an opportunity to give sustainability to our project.”
Angola enter the clash on a high note, having not lost any of their last nine games in all competitions.
The head-to-head record between the two nations stands evenly poised, with Nigeria and Angola securing two victories each and sharing five draws.