Nigeria’s senior men national team; the Super Eagles arrived Johannesburg, in the early hours of Friday ahead of Saturday’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON2019Q) against South Africa.
A large contingent from Africa’s most populous nation touched down at the Oliver Thambo International Airport at about 3:30am local time and was received by Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President Amaju Pinnick along with the Nigerian embassy officials.
The Super Eagles are without key players in goalkeeper Francis Uzoho and striker Odion Ighalo who are both injured while midfielder Wilfred Ndidi is carrying a card suspension from Nigeria’s last game. Their hosts – the Bafana Bafana – will also be without key players due to injury.
Gernot Rohr’s Eagles will have their only official training session before the game at about 3pm local time (2pm in Nigeria) on Friday at the main bowl of the First National Bank (FNB) Stadium in Johannesburg, venue of Saturday’s top of the table clash.
“We are ready for the game despite the challenges, we are here for revenge (after the loss in Uyo last year). We have a different and better team now with World Cup experience even when they are missing some players.
“My young team will play a good game despite missing four important players, (Abdullahi Shehu, Wilfred Ndidi and) especially Uzoho and Ighalo. (Our) training sessions were good in Asaba and we have prepared for the game. I believe the boys will give a good fight and earn respectable result in the game,” head coach Rohr said on arrival.
2015 FIFA Under-17 Championship winners Victor Osimhen and Samuel Chukwueze are among the young Nigerian side in South Africa for Saturday’s game. The latter who has earned promotion to the Villareal senior team this season has been handed a maiden call-up for this game and is poised to be in the match day squad.
Enyimba goalkeeper Theophilus Afelokhai will fight with club mate Ikechukwu Ezenwa and South Africa-based Daniel Akpeyi for the spot in goal against the Bafana Bafana on Saturday after Uzoho’s injury.
Nigeria who have not beaten their hosts in their past four meetings need just a point from the game to seal qualification for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations tournament which as at now will be staged in Cameroon next June.