The teams come into this match after very different starts to their tournaments. Nigeria got off the mark in the tournament with an impressive win against up and coming Burundi, Guinea on the other hand, struggled to a draw against lowly ranked Madagascar. Both teams will definitely be looking to build on/improve on their first results, with these two favoured to finish the group as 1st and 2nd, we should be in for a cracker.
Nigeria got through a tough match against Burundi, with a 1-0 victory on Saturday thanks to a fairly late goal by former Watford striker Odion Ighalo. The Super Eagles were getting flustered by Burundi’s solid defence and were massively relieved to find the breakthrough deep into the second half. Given their personnel and history in the African Cup of Nations, you’d expect them to top this group, especially with their easiest match vs Madagascar in their final group game.
Guinea were far from convincing as they could only get a draw vs Madagascar. As the second favourite to progress from this group, they’ll be looking to regroup after a negative first result and bounce back with hopefully some form of a result against the Super Eagles. They’ll need to be tighter at the back than they were in their first match against Madagascar, conceding two against a side who had only scored three in their last five matches against African opposition.
Following their victory over Burundi, I’m expecting the starting XI for Nigeria to stay fairly unchanged. However, with their lack of clinical finishing in front of goal, I think the goal-scorer from their first match, Odion Ighalo, could be in line for a return. As I said earlier in the preview, the Burundi defence was aggravating Nigeria, they still had plenty of chances, but they weren’t ruthless enough in front of goal.
From what I’ve been able to find, it looks like the defence isn’t likely to change, with English based pair Wilfred Ndidi and Oghenekaro Etebo providing support from a defensive midfield position. Middlesborugh based Jon Obi Mikel is likely to sit further back than the first match. This gives Nigeria the ability to take the shackles off Arsenal hot prospect Alex Iwobi, as he looks to kickstart his tournament with some goals/assists from a more central positon.
Guinea will be looking to make changes as they try to get their tournament up and running properly. One change that Guinea will be definitely welcoming is that of Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita. He came on in the second half after Madagascar’s second half onslaught and helped them steady the ship before going onto find an equaliser.
Captain Ibrahima Traore will more than likely be dropped back into midfield with Idrissa Sylla potentially making the cut for the starting XI. Napoli’s young starlet Amadou Diawara will also continue in the midfield, as the Serie A man has a lot to offer in both attack and defence.
Nigeria are odds on favourites to get the win here and I can’t see past that result. However at odds of 1.85, I’d be looking for a bit more value. The selections that pop out to me the most with regards to result are Nigeria & Under 2.5 Goals @ 3.40 and Nigeria to win to nil @ 2.70. Nigeria have been very solid at the back in recent matches, conceding just twice in their last six matches, I’m expecting their strong attack to get the job done going forward.
From a goal-scorer perspective, I’m liking the look of Oghalo – Anytime Scorer @ 2.40, the China based striker got his countries only goal off the bench on Saturday and should be back in the starting lineup for this one.