PREVIEW: Liberia vs. Nigeria – team news, head-to-head, expected XI
The Super Eagles will be quite desperate for victory when they take on the Lone Stars of Liberia on Saturday in their fifth group game of the second round of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers. Gernot Rohr’s men will need all three points to, at least, boost their chances of making the third and final round of the qualifiers before their tricky test against closest rivals Cape Verde billed for next week.
Nigeria currently tops Group C with nine points after four group games, and will need only four points from their remaining two games in this round to advance to the next. Their opponent on Saturday Liberia, in contrast, have no hope of making it out of the group as they are bottom with only three points (only the group leader makes it out).
In the reverse fixture between both West African teams in September, the hosts Nigeria secured a 2-0 victory at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos to start off their campaign on a high note. The Eagles will be looking to do the double over the Lone Stars tomorrow at the Stade Ibn Batouta in Tangier, Algeria.
In response to their infamous shock home defeat to Central African Republic last month, Nigeria coach Rohr has called up trusted hitman Odion Ighalo out of retirement. The former Manchester United striker called it quit on his national team career two years ago, just after the 2019 AFCON in which he finished top scorer. Rohr will be banking on the 32-year-old’s experience not only for the encounters against Liberia and Cape Verde, but also for the impending AFCON tourney.
The Eagles squad has been further beefed up with the presence of Wilfred Ndidi, Alex Iwobi and Samuel Chukwueze, all of whom sat out of the C.A.R. double header in October with injuries.
Liberia, although they are already out of the Qatar 2022 race, mean serious business versus Nigeria. Coach Peter Butler made eight changes to the squad that lost by two goals to the Eagles in Lagos, with the inclusion of defenders like Mark Pabai and Jamal Arago expected to give them some defensive cover.
HEAD TO HEAD
The Eagles have a superior head-to-head record against Liberia as they’ve won 10 of the 15 games in which both teams have faced off. Liberia have won just three out of that, one of which was notably a World Cup qualifier (in 2000).
Nigeria win: 10
Liberia win: 3
Expected XI for Nigeria
Okoye; Aina, Collins, Ekong, Balogun; Ndidi, Aribo, Iwobi, Chukwueze; Iheanacho, Osimhen