Nigeria have twice conceded late equalisers in their 1-1 draws with Zambia and Burkina Faso. Now, in their final group game against Ethiopia, they must secure a win to guarantee a place in the quarterfinals.
If the Super Eagles can’t beat Ethiopia, then it could be argued that they don’t deserve to progress anyway.
The Ethiopians come into this game on the back of a 4-0 thrashing at the hands of the group leaders Burkina Faso. At No. 110 in the FIFA World Rankings, they are the lowest ranked team in this competition—their first African Cup of Nations in 31 years.
In contrast, Nigeria are amongst the favourites to win the tournament and could count themselves unlucky to have been pegged back by Zambia. Stephen Keshi’s team were the victim of a shocking penalty decision and the Nigeria coach will hope that this fuels their desire to leave nothing to chance this time.
The big decision for Keshi is whether to recall Joseph Yobo to the side. The injured Nigerian skipper did not feature against Zambia, with his place instead being given to the 19-year old defender Kenneth Omeruo.
Ethiopia also have selection headaches, with their coach Senet Bishaw having confirmed that they will be without the injured Adane Girma and Asrat Gobena against Nigeria.
Players To Watch
Nigeria: Emmanuel Emenike
The Spartak Moscow striker scored Nigeria’s goals against both Burkina Faso and Zambia. The Super Eagles will again be looking towards the powerful attacker to once again provide their cutting edge against Ethiopia.
Emenike has now scored three goals in eight games for Nigeria and looks as if he’s now transferring his club form to international level, having averaged roughly one goal in every two games while playing in Turkey for Karabukspor and in Russia for Spartak Moscow.
Ethiopia: Saladin Said
With the inspirational Adane Girma out injured, Ethiopia will look toward their striker Saladin Said to step up.
The forward has recently moved from Egypt to the Belgian Jupiler League, where he will play for Lierse. Former Belgium coach Walter Meeuws recently backed Said to be one of the surprise stars of the tournament.