The Super Eagles are one point clear of Benin at the top of Group L but neither side are secure in qualification, with Sierra Leone and Lesotho not too far behind.
Benin vs Nigeria build-up, previous line-ups & injury news:
Benin go into this game in more danger of failing to qualify for next year’s tournament, which would be their second in a row, four points clear of Sierra Leone with two games left to play. Although that may look to be a comfortable distance to some, after playing group leaders Nigeria, Benin then face Sierra Leone and know the pressure would be on. However, it is also very straight forward for Benin in that, they can secure their spot at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations with a win over Nigeria (or Sierra Leone), or even just by staying undefeated across the two games.
Like Benin, Nigeria only need to remain unbeaten in their final two group games to qualify for what would be a 19th Africa Cup of Nations. Gernot Rohr’s side haven’t lost so far, beating Benin and Lesotho with two draws against Sierra Leone, including a 4-4 thriller at home in November which did see them lose a four-goal lead. But that 4-4 draw with Sierra Leone means Nigeria do need at least two points from their two remaining games. If they were to finish level on points with Sierra Leone, which is still a possibility, then Nigeria would fall below due to away goals scored.
- Benin (vs Lesotho): Allagbe*; Roche, Adenon, Hountondji; Assogba, D’Almeida, Bonou, Kiki; Dossou, Mounie*, Pote.
- Nigeria (vs Sierra Leone): Okoye; Akpoguma*, Troost-Ekong, Balogun, Aina; Etebo, Aribo, Iwobi; Chukwueze, Iheanacho, Musa.
Nigeria are without Moses Simon and Samuel Kalu, with the former unable to travel and the latter injured. However, they do still have captain Ahmed Musa in the squad, despite the 28-year-old currently being without a club. Saturnin Allagbe has also been unable to travel with Benin, as has Steve Mounie.
Player to watch: Victor Osimhen (Nigeria)
Victor Osimhen will be hoping to return to happier times when he links up with Nigeria after a testing year. The striker became the most expensive African player when signing for Napoli last summer, joining from Lille for a reported €50m fee and expectations were high after an excellent season in France.
However, for reasons outside of Osimhen’s control, the Nigerian really hasn’t got up and running in Naples, with just three goals in 19 appearances for Gennaro Gattuso’s side. Two goals in his first six Serie A games was a positive start for Osimhen, but he then suffered a shoulder injury that would keep him out (alongside other reasons) until the end of January. He then returned to the side but at the end of February suffered a head injury that ruled him out for another three matches.
Since that second return, Osimhen has one goal in three league matches, but none of those appearances have come from the start as Napoli have now found a way to play without the Nigerian. There are hopes it will improve for Osimhen in the future, but there is no denying he will be grateful for a return to Nigeria where he has five goals in 10 caps.