All invited players are now in the camp of the Super Eagles in Eko Hotel, Victoria Island, Lagos as countdown begins for Sunday’s 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying showdown with the Leone Stars of Sierra Leone in Monrovia.
Table-toppers Nigeria, on nine points, will slug it out with the Leone Stars, four points behind and in third place, at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Stadium in Paynesville, Monrovia.
The 22,000 -capacity arena will witness fireworks from 5pm Nigeria time (4pm Liberia time) as the Super Eagles seek to reach the finals of the 34th Africa Cup of Nations, scheduled for Cote d’Ivoire early next year, with a game to spare.
For the last edition of Africa’s flagship football championship, the Super Eagles qualified for the finals with a game to spare after Paul Onuachu headed in with few minutes left against Benin Republic’s Guepards in Porto Novo.
Three-time champions Nigeria will fire from all cylinders at the Paynesville, conscious that second-placed Guinea Bissau, two points behind, are likely to inflict defeat on group whipping boys Sao Tome and Principe in the other match of the pool.
In the last weeks of 2020, the Leone Stars famously came from 4-1 down to draw 4-4 with the Super Eagles at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City in another Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match (Cameroon 2021), and few days later, held the Eagles to a barren draw at the Siaka Stevens Stadium in Freetown.
When both teams clashed on Day 1 of the ongoing series at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja a year ago, the Leone Stars drew the first blood before goals by Alex Iwobi and Victor Osimhen put Nigeria in the driving seat. The Eagles flew to Agadir, Morocco some days later to inflict a 10-0 defeat on Sao Tome and Principe, in the event setting a new international win-record.
The Confederation of African Football has appointed Sudanese official Mahmood Ali Ismail as the referee for Sunday’s encounter, with his compatriot Mohammed Abdallah Ibrahim as assistant referee 1. Liban Abdourazak Ahmed from Djibouti will serve as assistant referee 2, with Mohamed Diraneh Guedi, also from Djibouti, in the role of fourth official.
Gambian Bakary Jammeh will be the commissioner while Kokou Djaoupe from Togo will serve as referee assessor.