Three –time champions Nigeria have a full house in Asaba, Delta State for Saturday’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations sendforth friendly against the Warriors of Zimbabwe.
Since qualifying for this year’s AFCON finals following a 1-1 draw with South Africa’s Bafana Bafana in Johannebsurg in November 2018, the Super Eagles have played two friendlies – a 0-0 draw with the Cranes of Uganda in Asaba on 20th November 2018 and a 1-0 defeat of seven-time African champions Egypt also in Asaba on 26thMarch 2019.
Both teams are expected to offer a sneak preview of how prepared they are for the AFCON, with Nigeria seeded in Group B and rated to go far in the finals and Zimbabwe believing it can punch above its weight in a pool also having host nation Egypt, Democratic Republic of Congo and Uganda.
While Egypt 2019 will be Nigeria’s 18th appearance at the AFCON, Zimbabwe’s Warriors are making only their fourth appearance, following group stage exits in 2004, 2006 and 2017.
In fact, Nigeria was one of the reasons Zimbabwe crashed out at group stage in 2006, as the Super Eagles defeated the Warriors 2-0 in Port Said, with one of the goals from Mikel John Obi.
Incidentally, the midfield enforcer and 14 –year veteran of the Super Eagles is returning to the group on Saturday after one year out. He played no part in the AFCON qualifying matches and friendly games post-World Cup but is back in the flow for the finals.
Nigeria’s squad for the final phase of preparations also includes pacy winger Ahmed Musa, defenders Abdullahi Shehu, Leon Balogun, William Ekong and Jamilu Collins, midfielders John Ogu, Oghenekaro Etebo and Wilfred Ndidi, and forwards Moses Simon, Henry Onyekuru, Odion Ighalo, Samuel Kalu, Alex Iwobi and Samuel Chukwueze.