After their underwhelming showing at the Africa Cup of Nations, West African footballing giants Ghana and Nigeria renew their rivalry in this regional derby with a World Cup berth at stake on Friday at 20:30GMT.
Will Ghana Take a Giant Step Towards Qatar 2022 by Making Home Comforts Count?
After failing to qualify from their group at the Africa Cup of Nations into the round-of-16, the Black Stars of Ghana will be looking to make it into the World Cup in Qatar 2022 at the expense of Nigeria.
The clash with Nigeria presents the perfect opportunity for Ghana to bounce back and take a major step towards qualification for the World Cup in Qatar in November.
Will Nigeria Force a Favourable Result Away in Ghana Ahead of the Second Leg in Nigeria Next Week?
The Super Eagles’ round-of-16 exit at the hands of Tunisia at the Africa Cup of Nations was disappointing and underwhelming.
Crowned one of the title’s favorites ahead of AFCON, Nigeria set about their business well by topping their group until they ran into Tunisia.
The Super Eagles will be hoping to address some of the glaring challenges exposed in Cameroon, including the one-dimensional over-reliance on wing-play without the ability to play through the middle to open up defenses.
The match against Ghana will present a chance for Nigeria to bounce back to winning ways and advance their chances to make it to the World Cup in Qatar.
In their last rounds of fixtures, Ghana have lost three times, drawn twice, and won just one match in all competitions.
The Black Stars will be looking to bounce back to winning ways against Nigeria.
In all competitions, the Super Eagles have won four matches, drawn one, and lost one in the last outings.
The solitary defeat in this run came against Tunisia in the round-of-16 of the Africa Cup of Nations.
Possible Starting Lineups
Wollacott; A. Yiadom, D. Amartey, A. Djiku, B. Rahman; K. Sulemana, Thomas, D. Krereh, A. F. Issahaku; A. Ayew, J. Ayew
Okoye; O. Aina, W. Troost-Ekong, K. Omeruo, Z. Sanusi; K. Nwakali, J. Aribo; S. Chukwueze, K. Iheanacho, M. Simon, V. Osimhen
Players to Watch
With Nigeria missing Wilfred Ndidi to injury, Ghana will be happy to have their midfield powerhouse Partey fit, available, and in form.
The Arsenal midfield destroyer has been in fine form for the Gunners in recent matches in the Premier League as their chase for a top-four berth has gained momentum.
The Black Stars will be hopping Partey will carry this good form into the match against Nigeria with a berth in Qatar 2022 at stake.
Controlling the midfield area will be crucial for both Nigeria and Ghana, and this will go a long way to determining the winner of this tie. Thomas Partey will be a crucial cog in the Ghanaian midfield as they seek to dominate Nigeria at home on Friday and establish a lead to take to Nigeria next week.
The Napoli forward is the top scorer of the title-chasing (second-placed) Napoli with 15 goals. This is even though Osimhen missed some matches with injury this season.
His impressive form offers Nigeria a massive boost ahead of the pivotal tie against Ghana on Friday. However, Osimhen has not played for the Super Eagles since November.
However, Augustine Eguavoen will be looking to integrate the Napoli talisman into the Super Eagles team ahead of the massive match against Ghana with a World Cup qualification at stake.
The 23-year-old offers considerable pace upfront, clever movement, runs in-behind, and link-up play with offensive players, which can trouble any defense in the world. Osimhen will be crucial to Nigeria’s chances of overcoming Ghana on Friday and on aggregate.
The Africa Cup of Nations demonstrates that Nigeria’s threat is down the flanks. Although this made them one-dimensional, especially against Tunisia in the round of 16, they will rely on their wide players to pose a danger and open up the Ghanaian defense.
Expect Ghana to dominate the ball, build up from the back, and play a patient match, hoping to probe and open up the vulnerable Nigerian defense. They will press across midfield and ensure that Nigeria’s rhythm is disrupted.
Ghana have the home advantage in this match and are favored to win this match ahead of the second leg in Nigeria next week.
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