Nigeria and Angola will clash on Friday, February 2, vying for a spot in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations semifinals.
Both teams enter the match unbeaten in their four tournament games, setting the stage for a challenging encounter at the Stade Félix Houphouët-Boigny in Abidjan.
Nigeria, aiming for their fourth continental crown, is the favoured side against Angola. The Super Eagles, despite a shaky start with a 1-1 draw against Equatorial Guinea, have shown strength, securing wins against Cote d’Ivoire and Cameroon.
In contrast, Angola, after a lacklustre 2019 AFCON and missing the 2021 edition, has impressed progressively.
The Palancas Negras drew against former champions Algeria in their opener, followed by wins over Mauritania and Burkina Faso, finishing as group leaders. A convincing 3-0 victory against Namibia in the second round strengthened their position.
Angola aims for an unprecedented fourth consecutive AFCON win, with a victory over Nigeria propelling them to their first-ever semifinal appearance.
While Nigeria’s quarterfinal losses are rare, with just one defeat in 16 attempts (against Ghana in 2008), Angola faces the challenge of causing one of AFCON’s biggest upsets.
Head-to-head, this marks Nigeria’s 102nd AFCON match, yet their 10th encounter with Angola. In other competitions, they have met ten times, with each side claiming two victories and five matches ending in draws.
Nigeria’s team news includes goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali’s injury, leaving his availability uncertain.
Coach Jose Peseiro may opt for Francis Uzoho if Nwabali fails a late fitness test. Captain William Troost-Ekong is also an injury concern.
Victor Osimhen, Nigeria’s talismanic forward, has been influential despite scoring just one goal. Coach Peseiro emphasises the need for his team to stay focused and not underestimate the challenge posed by Angola.
Angola faces challenges with the absence of first-choice goalkeeper Adilson Neblú, red-carded in the win over Namibia. António Signori is expected to step in.
Midfielder Beni Mukendi has reportedly left the camp to return to his Portuguese club, Casa Pia, due to limited playing time in Ivory Coast.