“The Jollof Derby”, Ghana and Nigeria clash tonight in the first leg of their heavyweight World Cup play-off tie.
Having failed to win any of the last four meetings between the sides since 2006, the Super Eagles will head into the game seeking to qualify over their West African counterparts.
Augustine Eguavoen’s side headed to the Africa Cup of Nation’s knock-out stages with high expectations having won all the three group games but left disappointed as it was followed by a last 16 defeat to Tunisia.
They had some more impressive performances though and will fancy their chances of booking a spot in Qatar later this year.
Ghana endured an underwhelming campaign at the Africa Cup of Nations, where they suffered a shock group-stage exit after picking up just one point from three games in Group C.
So, unsurprisingly, Milovan Rajevać was sacked as Head Coach with Otto Addo in charge for this play-off.
The Black Stars are at home in Kumasi and will look to put a terrible Africa Cup of Nations behind them as they turn their sights to the World Cup qualifying playoffs against West African rivals Nigeria.
Here’s all you need to know about tonight’s first-leg match….
Ghana vs Nigeria is scheduled for a 8:30pm kick-off tonight, Friday March 25, 2022, Nigeria time.
The Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi will host the match.
Ghana will be led by interim manager Otto Addo following the dismissal of Milovan Rajevac by the Ghana Football Association back in January due to their underwhelming run at the Africa Cup of Nations.
Kamaldeen Sulemana misses out for Ghana due to injury, while Andre Ayew is suspended in what is a huge blow for his country. His absence means there will be even more pressure on brother Jordan Ayew to lead the line.
Crystal Palace forward Jordan Ayew, who is currently 10th in the nation’s all-time scoring chart, has also been named in the squad despite returning with a COVID-19 positive test on Sunday.
The duo of Club Brugge defender Denis Odoi and Roma youngster Felix Afena-Gyan have been handed debut call-ups to the squad and could make their first senior appearances.
Nigeria goalkeeper Maduka Okoye misses out through illness with Francis Uzoho expected to start in goal for Nigeria.
Wilfried Ndidi will also be absent, after the Leicester midfielder picked up an injury against Rennes and Everton forward, Alex Iwobi, was not included in Eguavoen’s squad because of the red card he received during the 1-0 defeat to Tunisia in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
Meanwhile, superstar striker Victor Osimhen is back in the squad having missed AFCON due to a fractured cheekbone.
Ademola Lookman, who switched his allegiance from England last month, Odion Ighalo and Emmanuel Dennis are all in the squad, having not been a part of the AFCON team.
In all, Nigeria boast an array of forwards with Ahmed Musa, Odion Ighalo, Victor Oshimen, Kelechi Ịheanachọ, Samu Chukwueze and Emmanuel Bonaventure Dennis in contention.
Ghana possible starting lineup:
Wollacott; Mensah, Amartey, Djiku, Yiadom; Partey, Wakaso; Paintsil, Kudus, Antwi-Adjei; Ayew
Nigeria possible starting lineup:
Uzoho; Sanusi, Troost-Ekong, Omeruo, Aina; Onyeka, Aribo; Lookman, Iheanacho, Chukwueze; Osimhen
Ghana vs Nigeria Head to head.
Ghana wins: 21
Nigeria wins: 10
Ghana vs Nigeria prediction
Ghana had an AFCON campaign to forget, and they’ll be hoping they can forget about it as they try and secure their place in Qatar.
However, they face a Nigeria side who were better than their last-16 exit team, parading a lot of attacking strength especially with Napoli striker Osimhen who missed out on the AFCON due to fractured cheekbone.
While Nigeria will be looking to quickly return to winning ways after a disappointing AFCON exit, but next up is an opposing side who they have failed to defeat in each of the most recent four meetings between the sides, losing three and claiming one draw since a 1-0 victory back in 2006.
Nevertheless, going up against the Super Eagles is a tricky test for any side, given their strengths in all departments of the pitch and we expect them to come out of Kumasi with a slender win or at worst a draw giving the Black Stars an uphill task in the return leg.
GHANA 1-2 NIGERIA