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NIGERIA VS SUDAN: Expectations as Super Eagles eye knockout qualification

Off the back of demonstrative victory over group favourites Egypt, Nigeria take on second place Sudan at the Roumde Adjia Stadium to retain their top spot in Group D of the Africa Cup of Nations.
Super Eagles vs Lesotho

NIGERIA has already kicked off its AFCON campaign to a flying start after beating expectations to stun the Pharoahs of Egypt 1-nil. Now, the Super Eagles will definitely secure their spot in the knockout stages of the competition if they defeat the Falcons of Jediane this afternoon.

The Falcons of Sudan started their own AFCON journey with a draw against Guinea-Bissau. The match would have not ended goalless at the Roumde Adjia Stadium on Tuesday, January 11th, if Guinea-Bissau had not squandered a second half penalty awarded them. The Sudanese national football team will now be looking forward to forcing Nigeria to drop important points in their January 15th encounter.

Sudan head into today’s match on an 11-game winless streak, they have lost seven and drawn four of their last 11 matches. They missed out on a place in the playoffs for this year’s World Cup and also crashed out of the Arab Cup in the group stages back in December 2021. The Falcons of Sudan have now failed to score a goal in six consecutive games since a 2-2 draw with Guinea in October 2021.

The Super Eagles of Nigeria will capitalise on this abysmal run of form from the Sudanese national team and take them to the cleaners on a good day. Sudan is not expected to pose much of an attacking threat to Nigeria even as former Chelsea defender Kenneth Omeruo will be absent due to that 79th-minute injury against Egypt. Semi Ajayi is qualified to put in the shift in the heart of Nigeria’s defense with Captain Ekong.

Sudan’s goalkeeper Ali Abdullah Abou did brilliantly to stop that 82nd-minute penalty kick from Guinea-Bissau’s Pelé in their AFCON opener. But Sudan is not expected to survive a determined Nigerian attack comprising Moses Simon’s marauding runs, Taiwo Awoniyi’s physical presence, and Kelechi Iheanacho’s finishing. Nigeria should win this match with the comfort of two or more goals on paper.

Joe Aribo provided the assist for Iheanacho’s winner against Egypt and he is expected to continue in his role as a creative powerhouse for the team. Hopefully, Samuel Chukwueze will come to the party this time around too. Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi won’t have much issues holding the middle of the park against Sudan.

Head-to-head, Nigeria has won 8, drawn 2, and lost 1 of their 11 encounters with Sudan. The Sudanese know that they cannot avoid defeat if they flounder in this match. The Super Eagles will show more intent to beat the Falcons of Jediane who were fortunate to avoid defeat against Guinea Bissau in their opening game.