Two sides in need of a morale-boosting result go head to head on Thursday when Ecuador and Nigeria lock horns in a mouthwatering friendly fixture at New Jersey’s Red Bull Arena.
La Tri head into the game on a run of five consecutive games without a win, while the Super Eagles have failed to taste victory in each of their last four outings across all competitions.
Ecuador failed to arrest their slump in form in their most recent outing on March 30, when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Argentina on home turf.
La Tri have now failed to win any of their last five outings across all competitions, including their final four outings in the World Cup qualifiers, picking up four draws and losing one since last November’s 2-0 win over Chile.
Despite a poor end to their World Cup qualification campaign, an early run of form saw Gustavo Alfaro’s men secure a place in Qatar after picking up 26 points from 18 games to finish two points above fifth-placed Peru in the playoffs spot.
Ecuador will fancy their chances of arresting their slump in form as they return home, where they are unbeaten in six consecutive games, picking up three wins and three draws since a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Peru in June 2021.
Nigeria, on the other hand, failed to kick-off their friendlies on a good note as they fell to a 2-1 at the hands of Mexico when the sides squared off on Sunday.
After falling behind to Santiago Gimenez’s first-half opener, Feyenoord forward Cyriel Dessers restored parity nine minutes into the second period before Watford defender William Troost-Ekong scored an own goal to hand El Tri a slender victory.
Prior to that, the Super Eagles saw their hopes of making a seventh World Cup appearance later this year come to an end when they were beaten on the away goal rule by rivals Ghana back in March.
Nigeria have now failed to win any of their last four games across all competitions, picking up two draws and loaning two since January’s 2-0 victory over Guinea-Bissau in Group D of the Africa Cup of Nations.
The West African giants have also failed to taste victory in 10 consecutive friendly outings, losing five and picking up five draws since a narrow 1-0 win over Egypt back in March 2019.
Alfaro has called up 25 players for their upcoming friendlies against Nigeria and Mexico, including Villarreal full-back Pervis Estupian and the Brighton & Hove Albion duo of midfielder Moises Caicedo and forward Jeremy Sarmiento.
Caicedo should be joined at the centre of the park by Alexander Alvarado and Charlotte FC man Alan Franco, while Robert Arboleda and Bayer Leverkusen defender Piero Hincapie should form the centre-back pairing, shielding Hernan Galindez in goal.
Wolverhampton Wanderers loanee Leonardo Campana, who scored seven goals in 14 appearances on loan at Inter Miami, should spearhead the attack, alongside Fenerbahce forward Enner Valencia.
As for Nigeria, Dessers maintained his fine goalscoring form with his strike against Mexico last time out and should be rewarded with another starting role in attack.
Off the back of an impressive midfield performance, Joe Aribo should retain his spot at the heart of the park, teaming up with Everton star Alex Iwobi and Stoke City’s Oghene Etebo.
At the defensive end of the pitch, we should see an unchanged back four of Calvin Bassey, Semi Ajayi, Troost-Ekong and Chidozie Awaziem, with 23-year-old Francis Uzoho between the sticks.