The Super Eagles of Nigeria will kick-off their Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) campagign on Saturday when they square up against the Swallows of Burundi in Alexandra.
After failing to qualify for the last two editions of the continent’s premier competition in 2015 and 2017, the team looks well-equipped to have a run deep in the tournament with a good mix of experienced and talented younger players in their squad.
The team prepped up for the competition with a draw against Zimbabwe and a loss against Senegal, a game played in closed doors.
Sadly though, preparations have been affected by a sickness bug in their camp in the build-up to the tournament with Ahmed Musa, Abdullahi Shehu and Leon Balogun among the players that have reported ill three days before the start of the tournament, while Oghenekaro Etebo and Chidozie Awaziem have just recovered from the bug.
Odion Ighalo is expected to lead the line for Nigeria despite him just returning from injury, with Ahmed Musa and Samuel Chukwueze expected to flank him on both sides. In between the sticks, Daniel Akpeyi is expected to get the nod ahead of Francis Uzoho, having started the last two matches for the team.
This is the first time that Burundi have made it through to the finals. They finished second in their qualifying group behind Mali having remained unbeaten with two wins and four draws from their six matches.
With Burundi not having trailed at the break in any of their last eight matches (three leads, five draws), they will be a genuine challenge to Nigeria, despite their contrasting AFCON pedigree.
• Gernot Rohr (Nigeria)
• Olivier Niyungeko (Burundi)
Head to Head: This will be the first meeting between those two nations.
Date, Time and Venue of the match:
- June 22th, 2019
- 7:00pm (Nigerian time)
- Alexandria Stadium in Alexandria, Egypt.