- Nigeria are without midfielder Wilfred Ndidi for the game
- Ghana will also miss the services of skipper Andre Ayew who is suspended
- The first leg will be played in Kumasi on Friday night
Eternal rivals Ghana and Nigeria face off in Kumasi on Friday evening in the first leg of the 2022 FIFA World Cup play-off qualifier, with a place on the plane to Qatar at stake for the two African football giants.
Heading into the tie, Nigeria are hugely tinged as favourites based on current form. The team did well at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in January where they won all their group matches, but fell short in the round of 16 where they lost to Tunisia.
On the contrary, Ghana struggled at the AFCON and couldn’t make it past the group phase. The results ended up in the firing of coach Milovan Rajevac and the hiring of former international Otto Addo, also the Borussia Dortmund assistant coach.
On his corner, Addo also has technical advisor in former Brighton head coach Chris Hughton.
The former Ghanaian international Addo is already revving up for the challenge and is confident the Ghanaians will pick a favourable result in Kumasi ahead of the return tie to be staged in Abuja next week Tuesday.
“We all expect Ghana to qualify for the FIFA World Cup (Qatar 2022) but that won’t be easy as we need to do our best to make it to this tournament,” Addo said.
He adds; “Matches between Ghana and Nigeria are always difficult but we believe in our players, we believe in our strategies, and we believe in the unflinching support of all Ghanaians as we go into these two matches.”
Meanwhile, Nigeria’s interim coach Augustine Eguavoen also beams confidence that the Super Eagles can continue in their good form and progress to Qatar.
Eguavoen was handed the team on interim basis prior to the AFCON after the firing of Gernot Rohr and his tenure was extended after the Nigerian Football federation went back on their decision to appoint Portuguese tactician Jose Peseiro.
“I’ve followed the Ghanaian team for quite a while, very talented and good football players, and there won’t be any much differences in their style of play, but of a mind game, it’s okay if they choose to play that, but I want to assure Nigerians we will fight and work hard to make sure Nigeria fly at the Qatar 2022,” said the tactician.
Heading into the fixture, Nigeria will look on to the on-form Victor Osimhen to inspire them, coming into the game hot on form from his Italian club Napoli. Osimhen missed the AFCOn due to injury, but his return is a boost to the Super Eagles.
They will also have Watford’s Emmanuel Dennis and experienced Odion Ighalo, also both who missed the Cup of Nations will be available and this will offer more attacking options for Eguavoen.
The team will however be without midfielder Wilfred Ndidi who is injured. Ndidi has been Nigeria’s silent warrior in midfield and his absence will be a huge miss.
Ghana will be without star striker Andre Ayew who is suspended following his red card at the AFCON and in his place, Arsenal’s on-form midfield general Thomas Partey has been tasked with skippering the side.
Also missing for the two games is exciting winger Kamaldeen Sulemana.
The Black Stars have handed debut call ups to AS Roma youngster Felix Afena Gyan and former Fulham defender, 33-year old Denis Odoi who now plays in Belgium.