Nigeria will welcome Lesotho to the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere, Lagos on Tuesday for their final 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
For one particular reason, this fixture will mean a lot to Nigerians. This will be the first time in two decades the Super Eagles will play a competitive fixture in Africa’s most populous city. Their last competitive game in Lagos was a 1-0 victory over Zambia in January 2001.
The game is essentially a dead rubber, with Nigeria having already secured their spot in the next AFCON. Meanwhile, Lesotho sit bottom of Group L and cannot qualify for the tournament.
The hosts needed an injury-time goal to secure victory away to the Benin Republic on Saturday.
Genk forward Paul Onuachu used his towering height to head the ball home after a scramble in the penalty box.
That victory guaranteed Nigeria top spot in the group and brought Benin’s eight-year undefeated run at home to an end.
Lesotho played out a goalless draw at home against Sierra Leone, registering their second consecutive goalless draw.
Form Guide: Nigeria
Nigeria are three-time winners of the Africa Cup of Nations, with their last success coming back in 2013; they did not qualify for the 2015 or 2017 editions of the tournament but were present in 2019, finishing third.
The Super Eagles are unbeaten in Group L, winning three and drawing two of their five matches to collect 11 points, which has left them four points clear of second-placed Benin and seven clear of Sierra Leone in third.
Gernot Rohr’s side actually went on a four-game winless run in all competitions between October 9 and November 17, but a 1-0 success over Benin on Saturday secured their spot in the AFCON finals.
Nigeria, who have also been present in each of the last three World Cups, will be bidding to finish their Group L campaign with a victory, and they will be a team to watch in the competition, which starts in January 2022.
Form Guide: Lesotho
Meanwhile, Lesotho have never qualified for the finals of an Africa Cup of Nations tournament and they will also not be present in next year’s competition, which is not a surprise.
The Crocodiles are without a victory in any competition since August 2019, but they have only lost two of their five matches in this section, picking up three points, meaning that third position is still open in Group L.
Thabo Senong’s side suffered a 4-2 loss to Nigeria in the reverse match in November 2019 before going down 1-0 against Benin in their next qualification match almost one year later, but the national team have played out goalless draws with Benin and Sierra Leone in their last two games.
The team ranked 143rd in the world by FIFA is mainly made up of players from the Lesotho Premier League, but they will not provide straightforward opposition for Nigeria in this game.
How the Match Could Go
With Nigeria already securing a spot in the AFCON 2022, Rohr might be tempted to shake things up a bit in his starting lineup. You can expect to see some new faces or not so regular players. Either the usual first team or a very different lineup, we still expect the Super Eagles to rule this game and make it their own. At the very worst, they won’t lose on home turf.
Tip: Over 2.5 Goals
We’re going with a rather bold claim here, for good reason that is. The Super Eagles are unbeaten in Group L after five matches and are the heavy favorites ahead of their clash against the Crocodiles.
Nigeria’s two previous home games in this group against Benin (2-1) and Sierra Leone (4-4) have seen three goals or more. There is potential for another goal-filled encounter is expected on Tuesday. Bet9ja have 1.70 odds, Bet365 have 1.72 and 1xbet have 1.74.
Nigeria to Win
There is not too much to play for in this match other than pride, but both teams will be keen to finish their qualification campaigns with a win. Lesotho have picked up draws in their last two matches, but we are expecting Nigeria to emerge victorious on Tuesday evening. Bet365 have 1.15 odds, Bet9ja have 1.17 odds and 1xbet have 1.20.
Anytime Goal-scorer (Nigeria)
The Napoli star was not on the score-sheet against Benin but he was a bright spark all through the game and could easily have grabbed a goal or two. He remains Nigeria’s leader in attack and there is a strong possibility he would be given the nod to start again in Lagos. He is the top scorer for the Super Eagles so far in their qualifying campaign and he’ll be looking to end his campaign on a high. Bet365have 2.50 odds while Bet9ja have 2.75.
Fresh from scoring against Benin, the tall forward is enjoying himself so far and his impressive club form has followed him to national colors as well. With 27 goals for Genk this season, he is the top scorer for the Super Eagles in Europe and perhaps even Africa as well. After his goal against Benin, he might be rewarded with a start on Tuesday given that Nigeria have nothing to lose in that one. His aerial prowess could once again come in handy, given that Lesotho have a certain weakness in the air. Bet365 have 3.00 while Bet9ja have 3.25 odds for him to score.
Football Lover. All-round junkie of the beautiful game. Could be found watching football most of the time. If not he’s writing about them or making some punditry you don’t agree with. A certain bias for Arsenal and Santos FC.