Nigeria is set to kick off their CAF World Cup qualifying campaign with a highly anticipated clash against Lesotho at the Godswill Akpbio Stadium in Group C on Thursday.
In what is being dubbed as the “group of death,” Nigeria are considered favorites to lead the standings ahead of Benin and South Africa, while Lesotho, along with Rwanda and Zimbabwe, possess the potential to cause major upsets.
Despite suffering a 1-0 defeat to Guinea-Bissau, Nigeria comfortably secured the top spot in their AFCON qualifiers group, winning five out of six matches and outscoring their opponents with 22 goals, including a 6-0 victory against Sao Tome and Principe.
The Super Eagles have displayed their attacking prowess by remaining unbeaten in their last five matches across various competitions.
Their recent form includes four victories and a draw, notably defeating Mozambique 3-2 in an away friendly match after a 2-2 stalemate with Saudi Arabia.
Reflecting on their match against Mozambique, Nigeria found themselves trailing by a goal early on but rallied to secure a commanding 3-1 lead by half-time, eventually winning the game.
Having missed out on the previous World Cup, Nigeria is eager to make amends and secure a spot in the upcoming tournament.
Meanwhile, Lesotho’s underwhelming performance in the African Cup of Nations suggests a challenging journey in Group C. Though a strong display in this fixture could provide a much-needed confidence boost.
Despite finishing at the bottom of their group in the African Cup of Nations, Lesotho showcased improvement in the COSAFA Cup, reaching the final and narrowly losing 1-0 to Zambia.
Nigeria form (all competitions): L W W W D W
Lesotho form (all competitions): W W L W L L
Victor Osimhen, a key player for Nigeria, is facing fitness concerns due to a hamstring injury. Additionally, doubts loom over the availability of Taiwo Awoniyi, Bruno Onyemaechi, and Samuel Chukwueze, potentially paving the way for Moffi to lead the attack.
For Lesotho, foreign-based professionals Motlomelo Mkhwanazi, Bokang Sello, and Neo Mokhachane are set to join the squad for the upcoming match, adding depth to their lineup.