The Super Eagles of Nigeria are set to take on the Selecao of Portugal in a pre-World Cup friendly match for the first time ever.
In as much as the Super Eagles didn’t qualify for the World Cup, it promises to be an interesting encounter as both side will likely play most of their star players. Portugal are in Group H of the 2022 FIFA World Cup alongside Ghana, Uruguay and South Korea.
The Super Eagles are set to field top players like Alex Iwobi, Wilfred Ndidi, Ademola Lookman, Moses Simon among others.
The Portuguese team almost didn’t qualify for the World Cup themselves and had to make it to the Mundial via playoffs against North Macedonia.
Portugal also recently lost to Spain and Switzerland in their Nations League games and Cristiano Ronaldo’s shaky form with Manchester United is also a thing of concern for the European side.
The Super Eagles on the other hand have been in unpredictable form defeating Sierra Leone and a hapless Sao Tome and Principe team also losing to Ecuador and Algeria in friendlies.
The team’s losing streak continued last Friday after losing to 2 nil to Costa-Rica in an international friendly. Although, the buck of players that featured in the match were from the Nigeria Professional League.
The match against Portugal will test the strength of both teams as they embark on their different paths at this point. On paper the Portuguese are favourites but Jose Poseiro’s men will definitely give a fight.
The match will take place tomorrow evening at the Estadio Jose Alvalade in Portugal. Kick-Off is 7.45pm.
With the absence of Victor Osimhen due to injury, Ademola Lookaman will be one of the players the Super Eagles will rely on. The Atalanta forward has been very impressive this season with 7 goals and an assist in the Serie A. The 25-year-old has a goal but he is yet to register any assist for the Super Eagles.
He has been playing like a new signing under Frank Lampard. The former Arsenal academy graduate has been one of Everton’s most outstanding performers this season. Despite The Toffees’ inconsistent performances this season, Iwobi has been exceptional. He has a goal and 7 assists in all competitions this season.
All eyes will be on the five-time Ballon d’Or winner who would be playing in his fifth FIFA World Cup. He hasn’t been at his best for Manchester United this season but for Portugal, the case might be different. Even though the Portuguese captain has been a shadow of himself this season, he remains a major threat to the Super Eagles defense. Ronaldo has been in the news for the last few days following his explosive interview about Manchester United with Piers Morgan.
Another player to look out for is Ac Milan’s winger Rafael Leao. The nimble winger has also been impressive for Serie A’s defending champions. Raphael Leao has registered seven goals and provided six assists in all competitions this season.
Nigeria’s Record Against European Team’s
The Super Eagles generally fare well against lowly-ranked European opposition and lose to the higher-ranked teams in friendly matches.
Germany 1-0 Nigeria (1998), Nigeria 2-1 Scotland (2002), Nigeria 2-1 Ireland (2002), Netherlands 5-1 Nigeria (1998), Nigeria 5-1 Georgia (1994), Yugoslavia 3-0 Nigeria (1998), Romania 2-0 Nigeria (1994), England 2-1 Nigeria (2018), Czech Republic 1-0 Nigeria (2018), Serbia 2-0 Nigeria (2018), Nigeria 1-0 Poland (2018) and Nigeria 2-2 Ukraine (2019)
The average Nigerian fan might not be interested in the match given that Nigeria didn’t not qualify for the World Cup but then it remains a high profile match for Jose Poseiro ahead of the AFCON qualifiers next year.
The only question on the minds of Nigerians at this point is whether the Super Eagles losing streak will continue against the star-studded Portuguese side led by superstar Cristiano Ronaldo?