Three-time Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) champions Nigeria are set to face Angola in the quarter-finals after a commanding 2-0 victory over Cameroon in the last-16.
The Super Eagles, riding a wave of success with three consecutive wins in this edition, are poised as red-hot favorites to progress, fueled by a rich history in AFCON quarter-finals, where they boast an impressive record of 9 wins and only 1 loss since the introduction of the final eight in 1992.
Nigeria’s head coach, José Peseiro, remains focused on the task at hand, emphasizing that all eight quarter-finalists are genuine title contenders. Despite being cautious about his team’s chances, Peseiro draws confidence from Nigeria’s solid defensive performances, maintaining three clean sheets in the tournament.
The Super Eagles have been prolific in front of goal, having scored in 11 out of their last 12 AFCON fixtures, showcasing their attacking prowess.
Ironically, the most recent encounter between Angola and Nigeria was in a quarter-final, but in the 2018 African Nations Championship exclusive to players representing home nation clubs.
In competitive settings, the two national teams haven’t met since the 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, where Angola denied Nigeria a spot. However, Angola’s recent history will fuel their drive in their first AFCON quarter-final since 2010, when they hosted the tournament but were eliminated by Ghana.
Angola’s impressive journey in this AFCON edition includes their most successful group stage, culminating in a convincing 3-0 victory over Namibia. With an eight-game unbeaten run in competition football, including notable upsets against Burkina Faso, Algeria, and Cape Verde, Angola enters the quarter-finals with confidence and determination to secure a historic semi-finals appearance.
The spotlight will be on key players from both sides. Ademola Lookman, instrumental in setting up Victor Osimhen’s first goal of the tournament, will play a crucial role in Nigeria’s attacking prowess. Osimhen, in return, has been pivotal with doubles in wins over Namibia and Mauritania. Gelson Dala, the standout performer for Angola, has consistently delivered impressive performances, earning the highest Flashscore player rating in two separate matches in this tournament.
As the teams finalize their strategies, Nigeria’s possible starting lineup includes Nwabali in goal, with a defensive trio of Ajayi, Troost-Ekong, and Bassey. The midfield is expected to be manned by Aina, Iwobi, Onyeka, and Sanusi, while the attacking trio comprises Lookman, Simon, and Osimhen.
On the other side, Angola’s potential starting lineup features Signori in goal, with Afonso, Gaspar, Buatu-Mananga, and Carneiro forming the defensive line. Fredy, Snow, and Estrela are likely to control the midfield, while Gilberto, Mabululu, and Dala spearhead the attacking force.
As the teams prepare to step onto the field, the Nigeria vs. Angola clash promises to be a riveting encounter, blending history, skill, and determination. Both sides are vying for a spot in the coveted semi-finals, and the outcome of this match will undoubtedly shape the narrative of the ongoing AFCON 2023, leaving fans on the edge of their seats in anticipation of footballing brilliance.