Nigeria storms the Borg El-Arab stadium in Alexandria with a mission to beat Egypt and qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.
But it is not going to be straightforward as it sounds because the venue of today’s match is considered a slaughter house for the Egyptians and interestingly out of every 20 people that lives in that militarized area, four are neither military men or women.
It tells a lot about how strong the mentality is overthere and that energy they will try to transmit to their national team as they hope to make the African Nations Cup after missing out of the last three editions.
Already the Egyptian FA has mobilized just over 40,000 fans to be in the stadium to support the Pharaohs which tell a lot about how much they want to qualify but the 7-time champions may have the biggest fight on their hands against the Samson Siasia led Super Eagles.
Oghenekaro Etebo’s goal was cancelled out by a late Mohamed Salah strike to earn the Pharaohs a 1-1 draw when both sides met last Friday at the Ahmadu Bello stadium in Kaduna.
Group G has just Egypt, Nigeria, and Tanzania following the withdrawal of Chad which makes it extremely difficult to make for any team in this group to qualify as one of the two best losers, so the top team takes it all.
Nigeria will battle Egypt without the service of Carl Ikeme due to injury but have been boosted by the return from suspension of Lazio midfielder Ogenyi Onazi while Egypt have no major injury worries and may put out the same team we saw in Kaduna.
Both sides have previously met 16 times with Nigeria edging it with seven wins, five draws and losing four.
Godfrey Oboabona vs Ahmed Hassan
Hassan had a clear chance to score against the Super Eagles last Friday but shut straight at Carl Ikeme but apart from that he was well watched by Oboabona throughout that game and it will not be any different today. The Egyptian could be powerful in the air which was rarely seen in the first leg but playing at home he will try to pull his muscles and the former Sunshine defender is up to the task, so it will be a massive duel between the two.
Stanley Amuzie vs Mohamed Salah
In Kaduna, Amuzie tried keeping Salah at bay for most of the game but a last minute loss of concentration allowed the Roma winger steal a late equalizer and it will be interesting to see who comes out tops today.
Mikel Obi vs Mohamed Elneny
These two had a very good game last Friday and will again be the focal point of both sides midfield which will be key to where the pendulum swings.
Odion Ighalo vs Ibrahim Salah
Ighalo didn’t quite enjoy the freedom he would’ve liked during the first game in Kaduna no thanks to the effectiveness of Ibrahim Salah who doubled marked on the Nigerian each time the Pharaohs had to defend. He made the job of Omar Gaber easy and will be expected to play the same role today against the Watford man.
Probable XI for Egypt:
Ahmed El-Shennawi, Omar Gaber, Rami Rabia, Ahmed Hegazy, Hamada Tolba, Ibrahim Salah, Mohamed Elneny, Abdallah El-Said, Mahmoud ‘Trezeguet’, Ahmed Hassan ‘Kouka’, Mohamed Salah.
Probable XI for Nigeria:
Ezenwa, Godfrey Oboabona, Etebo Oghenekaro, Ambrose Efe, Amuzie Stanley, Mikel Obi, Ogenyi Onazi, Ahmed Musa, Odion Ighalo, Shehu Abdullahi, Moses Simon.
Hector Cuper (Egypt):
“We don’t care whether Chad have withdrawn. We focus only on achieving victory against Nigeria, this is the most important thing.
“We have one target against Nigeria, which is achieving victory. All the players are ready and the atmosphere will be different than the first match.”
Samsia Siasia (Nigeria):
“This is a game of football and everything is possible and all we just have to do is win in Alexandria.
“If we don’t win then it means we are out of the race and we understand that very well.
“I feel confident that we will get the result we want in Alexandria because it is very possible especially in a game of football.”
Prediction: Egypt 3-1 Nigeria