A place in the 2022 FIFA World Cup will be on the line on Tuesday when West African rivals Nigeria and Ghana square off at the M.K.O Abiola National Stadium.
Following Friday’s draw Ghana have now failed to win any of their last five games across all competitions, while Nigeria have managed just one win in their last five home games.
The spoils were shared in an uneventful goalless draw when Ghana and Nigeria locked horns in the first leg of their World Cup qualifying playoff tie last Friday.
In a drab contest at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium, both sides were guilty of a lethargic display and lack of cutting edge at the attacking end of the pitch as they settled for a draw, leaving all to play for on Tuesday.
Prior to that, the Super Eagles enjoyed a fine group-stage campaign, winning four and claiming one draw from six games to collect 13 points and finish top of Group C, two points above runners-up Cape Verde.
However, Nigeria now return to home soil where they have struggled to get going, claiming just two wins from their last nine games since 2019, while losing three and claiming four draws in that time.
Austine Eguavoen‘s men, who are currently 32nd in the latest FIFA World Rankings, will look to end this dry spell and equal Cameroon’s record for the most represented African nation in the history of the World Cup with seven appearances.
On the other hand, Friday’s draw came fresh off the back of a disappointing run at the Africa Cup of Nations, where Ghana were dumped out in the group stages with just one point from three games.
Otto Addo‘s men have now failed to taste victory in any of their last five outings across all competitions, losing three and claiming two draws since a 1-0 victory over South Africa back in November.
However, the Black Stars head into Tuesday’s game following a fine run in the group stages of the qualifiers, claiming 13 points from an available 18 to finish top of Group G and edge out South Africa on goal difference.
While they will look to cause an upset in Abuja and become one of five sides to head to Qatar later in the year, next up is an opposing side who they have failed to defeat in any of their previous five meetings between the sides, losing three and claiming two draws since a 1-0 victory back in 2006.
Following a toothless display in the final third last Friday, Eguavoen could make a few changes in attack, and one of them could be Leicester City man Ademola Lookman coming in for Moses Simon.
The 24-year-old, who came off the bench for his debut after recently switching nationalities, could team up with Emmanuel Dennis and fellow Leicester City teammate Kelechi Iheanacho all behind Napoli striker Victor Osimhen.
At the opposite end of the pitch, skipper and Watford defender William Troost-Ekong should make his 60th appearance for the Super Eagles, standing at the heart of the four-man defence and shielding Francis Uzoho between the sticks.
Meanwhile, Ghana will be boosted by the return of veteran forward and skipper Andre Ayew, who is now available for selection after missing the first leg through suspension.
We expect the 32-year-old to immediately return to the XI, starting alongside brother Jordan Ayew and Roma youngster Felix Afena-Gyan at the attacking end of the pitch.
Thomas Partey, who boasts 39 senior caps for the Black Stars, will once again anchor the midfield, teaming up with Ajax youngster Mohammed Kudus and Mallorca man Iddrisu Baba.
Denis Odoi made his national team debut on Friday and we expect the experienced full-back to retain his spot at right-back, with Daniel Amartey, Alexander Djiku and Gideon Mensah completing the backline.
Nigeria possible starting lineup:
Uzoho; Aina, Troost-Ekong, Balogun, Bassey; Onyeka, Aribo; Lookman, Iheanacho, Dennis; Osimhen
Ghana possible starting lineup:
Wollacott; Mensah, Amartey, Djiku, Odoi; Partey, Baba, Kudus; J Ayew, Afena-Gyan, A Ayew
Nigeria will be counting on the support of their home crowd as they take on their close rivals Ghana for a place in Qatar. On paper, Nigeria head into the game as favourites to come away with the results as they boast a plethora of world-class talents across all department of the pitch. While we expect the Black Stars to cause an upset, we are tipping Nigeria to come away with the win, albeit by the odd goal.
Our analysis of all available data, including recent performances and player stats up until an hour before kickoff, suggested the most likely outcome of this match was a Nigeria win with a probability of 42.51%. A win for Ghana had a probability of 30.44% and a draw had a probability of 27%.
The most likely scoreline for a Nigeria win was 1-0 with a probability of 11.64%. The next most likely scorelines for that outcome were 2-1 (8.66%) and 2-0 (7.87%). The likeliest Ghana win was 0-1 (9.47%), while for a drawn scoreline it was 1-1 (12.8%). The actual scoreline of 1-1 was predicted with a 12.8% likelihood.