World Cup qualifier: Nigeria vs Algeria (Preview, Time, Prediction)
The Super Eagles of Nigeria will battle the Desert Foxes of Algeria in a crucial 2018 World Cup qualifiers at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo on Saturday.
Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr has admitted Algeria will provide his team with their biggest test yet.
Former Niger, Gabon and Burkina Faso coach Rohr has endeared himself to even critics who questioned his credentials and choice as the Super Eagles handler in July after he won his first two games in charge.
In September, he supervised a wasteful Eagles team to beat visiting Tanzania 1-0 in a final 2017 AFCON qualifier.
And the following month, he masterminded a first-ever win in Zambia to get Nigeria’s World Cup qualifying campaign off to a winning start.
“This is one of our biggest games because Algeria are one of the top teams in Africa,” said the Franco-German coach, who has thrown youngsters like Alex Iwobi and Kelechi Iheanacho into the deep-end with great success.
“It will be difficult, but I am confident in my players to do the maximum to win this game.”
The Eagles have been fortified for this game with the return of William Troost-Ekong, Oghenkaro Etebo and Victor Moses, who is enjoying a new lease of life at Chelsea after countless loan spells.
Algeria will be gunning for a result in Nigeria after they were forced to a 1-1 draw by Cameroon in front of their own fans.
The Desert Foxes have gone through some changes since that draw in Blida with Belgian coach Georges Leekens replacing Milovan Rajevac, who quit after a dressing room row with the country’s top stars.
It’s Leekens second spell with the North Africans and his baptism of fire will be against a team who have regained some self-belief and enjoy a better head-to-head record – 8 wins, 3 draws and 6 losses.
The former Belgium coach’s debut has not been made any easier by injuries to key players like Ryad Boundebouz, Hilal Soudani and Rachid Ghezzal.
Napoli left back Faouzi Ghoulam is “touch and go” as he is battling a groin problem.
But the form of 21-year-old midfielder Nabil Bentaleb at German Bundesliga club Schalke 04 would most certainly be a huge boost.
On loan from Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur, he has rattled in five goals in six competitive games and as a result Schalke have agreed to keep him for another season.
Top star is winger Riyad Mahrez has struck a good understanding with countryman and top striker Islam Slimani at Leicester City this season.
But despite his potent attacking arsenal, Leekens will be cautious with the main objective being that they cannot afford to lose in Nigeria. Mtnfootball