AFRICA: Africa Cup of Nations
Venue: Stade Omnisport Roumdé Adjia (Garoua)
Nigeria started their Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) campaign with a 1-0 win over favourites Egypt, making it the seventh time across their last 11 tournament appearances that they’ve achieved a winning start. Intriguingly, six of their last eight AFCON group openers have ended 1-0 either way, so the scoreline wasn’t a surprise for history readers, as the 36th-ranked ‘Super Eagles’ extended their unbeaten run (W3, D1).
Up next is Sudan, a side Nigeria have defeated in eight of their previous 14 encounters (W8, D4, L2). A win here will bring back memories of the 2006 edition for the then-and-now coach Augustine Eguavoen, as they look to break a preceding sequence of four consecutive finishes as group stage runners-up in AFCON finals.
Back in the AFCON group stages after missing four editions, 125th-ranked Sudan started with a goalless draw against Guinea-Bissau, and they’re now winless across 12 outings (D5, L7), with eight of those matches witnessing the ‘Falcons of Jediane’ fail to score.
Six of Sudan’s eight H2H losses – including the last AFCON H2H group stage match back in 1976 – have also come ‘to nil’. They have also failed to win any match against teams currently ranked inside FIFA’s top 50 since October 2014, though encouragingly for them, that win came against this game’s opponents Nigeria!
Key battle: Albeit without scoring, Moses Simon was instrumental against Egypt on Group D matchday one. He has seen three of his five goals in Nigeria colours come as their last strike, as have his two league goals for club side Nantes this season. He will be up against talented Sudanese stopper Ali Abdallah Abu-Eshrein, who kept a clean sheet on his AFCON group stage debut.
- Nigeria’s form in last 5 matches: WDWWL.
- Sudan’s form in last 5 matches: DDLLL.
PREDICTION: Home Win