Fresh off the back of a hard-earned victory over fellow group favourites Egypt, Nigeria take on Sudan at the Roumde Adjia Stadium in Group D of the Africa Cup of Nations on Saturday.
While victory for the Super Eagles will almost certainly secure their spot in the knockout stages, the Falcons of Jediane will look to avoid more dropped points after playing out a bore draw with Guinea-Bissau on Tuesday.
Nigeria got their Africa Cup of Nations campaign off to a fine start as they claimed a 1-0 victory over Egypt in their Group D curtain-raiser on Tuesday.
In a game where Mohamed Salah was shut out by the Super Eagles’ rigid defence, it was Leicester City man Kelechi Iheanacho who stole the headlines as he scored the only goal of the game on the half-hour mark.
Nigeria, who are seeking their fourth title on the continental stage, are now unbeaten in all but one of their last seven games in all competitions, claiming five wins and one draw in that time.
This impressive run also saw Augustine Eguavoen’s men secure smooth passage into the playoffs of the 2022 World Cup after finishing top of Group C in the qualifiers, two points ahead of runners-up Cape Verde.
Following their opening-day win over the Pharaohs, Nigeria currently sit at the summit of Group D and will look to keep the juggernaut rolling as they aim to surpass their third-placed finish in Egypt three years ago.
Meanwhile, Sudan will be somewhat delighted by their start to the tournament as they held Guinea-Bissau to a goalless draw at the Roumde Adjia Stadium on Tuesday.
In a game where clear-cut chances were at a premium, Guinea-Bissau were given a glorious opportunity to take the lead in the 82nd minute after winning a penalty, but goalkeeper Ali Abdullah Abou did brilliantly to deny Monaco midfielder Pele.
While manager Burhan Tia will be impressed by the result, the 57-year-old will be concerned with his side’s lack of firepower up top as they have now failed to score in six consecutive games since October’s 2-2 draw with Guinea.
Sudan head into Saturday’s game on an 11-game winless streak, losing seven and claiming four draws, and this poor string of results saw them miss out on a place in the playoffs of the World Cup and also crash out of the Arab Cup in the group stages back in December.
While they will look to find their feet and get their AFCON campaign up and running, standing in their way is an opposing side who they have lost to in each of their last two encounters since a 1-0 victory back in 2014.
Following his winner against the Pharaohs, Iheanacho has now had four goal insolvents for club and country and we expect the Leicester City man to spearhead the attack with 24-year-old Taiwo Awoniyi.
Rangers man Joe Aribo caught the eye as he turned on the style at the centre of the park and we expect the 25-year-old to retain his spot in the Super Eagles’ midfield pivot, alongside Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi.
Meanwhile, following Tuesday’s goalless draw with Guinea-Bissau, Sudan have now failed to find the target in any of their last six games since putting two past Guinea back in October and we expect Tia to make some changes in attack.
In defence, we expect to see the same back four of Mustafa Elfadni, Salaheldin Nemer, Mustafa Karshoum and Mazin Mohamedein, shielding Abou, who made a sensational 82nd-minute penalty save to deny Pele against the Djurtus.
Nigeria possible starting lineup: Okoye; Aina, Troost-Ekong, Omeruo, Sanusi; Aribo, Ndidi; Onyekuru, Iheanacho, Simon; Awoniyi
Sudan possible starting lineup:
Abou; Elfadni, Nemer, Karshoum, Mohamedein; G Omer, Khidir, Al-Rasheed, A Omer; Yasim, Abdelrahman