Ghana will host neighbours and sworn rivals, Nigeria in the biggest rivalry in African football tonight at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in the first leg of the 2022 FIFA World Cup playoffs.
After a disappointing AFCON campaign, both countries will look to redeem themselves and console their supporters with nothing but qualification to the biggest global football event which will be staged in Qatar later this year.
The Black Stars finished as winners of Group G in the first phase of the qualifiers with 13 points, ahead of South Africa, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia.
The ‘make or break’ tie as to who qualifies to the playoffs was decided by Andre Ayew’s 33rd-minute penalty which propelled Ghana to a narrow win over initial group leaders, South Africa to make it to the next round.
However, the Super Eagles also cruised into the playoff after bossing Group C with 13 points, above Cape Verde, Liberia and the Central African Republic.
The four-time African champions, had a disastrous AFCON campaign which will go down as the worse ever in their history, claiming just a point to finish at the bottom of Group G, having lost abysmally to Comoros in their final group game.
This led to the jettisoning of Serbian gaffer Milovan Rajevac and was subsequently replaced by Borussia Dortmund trainer Otto Addo, with former Brighton and Newcastle United manager, Chris Hughton as his Technical advisor.
On the other hand, Nigeria initially, commenced Africa’s biggest football tourney on a higher note after finishing as the best team in the group stages with 9 points to lead Group D ahead of Egypt, Sudan and Guinea-Bissau but suffered a very painful exit after losing to Tunisia in the Round of 16.
Newly-appointed Black Stars head coach, Otto Addo has been dealt with a blow following the injury of Edmund Addo on Wednesday’s training session.
Another huge blow as German-based playmaker, Daniel Kofi Kyereh looks doubtful for the game having missed the team’s final training due to a thigh injury.
Jordan Ayew after testing positive for COVID-19 is gradually getting better and is very likely he will be available for selection this evening
Skipper Andre Ayew is ruled out due to suspension and the team will be led today by Arsenal midfield enforcer, Thomas Partey.
Except that, the rest of the players are fully fit and will be ready for the game tonight.
On the opposition end, Nigeria gaffer Austin Eguavoen will also miss the service of a playmaker, Alex Iwobi due to suspension
The three-time champions will also be without combative midfielder, Wilfred Ndidi who sustained an injury in Leicester City’s UEFA Conference League quarter-final game against Stade Rennes. He was replaced by Lorient star Innocent Bonke.
Again, first-choice goalie Maduka Okoye has also been ruled out due to COVID-19 with his position taken by John Noble of Enyimba FC
Probable line up for both nations
Ghana: Richard Ofori, Gideon Mensah, Alexander Djiku, Daniel Amartey, Denis Odoi, Baba Iddrisu, Thomas Partey, Kudus Mohammed, Jordan Ayew, Felix Afena-Gyan, Joseph Painstil
Nigeria: Francis Uzoho, Ola Aina, Zaidu Sanusi, Troost-Ekong, Kenneth Omeruo, Frank Onyeka, Joe Aribo, Samuel Chukwueze, Moses Simon, Kelechi Iheanacho, Victor Osimhen.
The game will be beamed live ESPN, NTA Sports 24, GTV Sports Plus, Star+, SSC
It will also be streamed live on Kickgh.com