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Nigeria v Mozambique Preview: African Cup of Nations Group C

January 20, 2010

Obafemi Martins

Obafemi Martins could see some action today (Credit: ©Adrian de Kock / MTNfootball.com

It’s a big match for Nigeria today, as they take on the Mambas of Mozambique in their final group fixture of Group C at the African Cup of Nations. It’s an even bigger game for Nigeria’s under-pressure coach Shaibu Amodu who must ensure that the team progresses to the next round or risk losing his job. To make matters more exciting, Mozambique’s Dutch coach Mart Nooij has been hotly tipped to replace Shaibu.

The Mambas also have everything to to play for in this match. A win can give them a qualifying chance. This would be their first time reaching the quarterfinals of the competition.

The two sides are all but new to each other. They met in the World Cup qualifiers last year and on both occasions the Mambas gave a good showing. Nigeria was lucky to come out of Maputo with a draw and they snatched a late winner at home in Abuja.

How they stand
Egypt sits comfortably at the top of the group with 6 points. Nigeria is currently second with 3 points and both Benin and Mozambique have 1 point each.

Permutations
Irrespective of what happens in both games today, Egypt will qualifier as winners of the group. The remaining teams will have to fight for the second spot. Nigeria has the best chance, requiring only a draw to go through. Mozambique and Benin have a chance if they are able to secure a win in their matches. For Mozambique they will be hoping that Egypt can beat or hold Benin. Benin would rather want a narrow win for Mozambique and hope a bigger win for them against Egypt will push them through.

Nigeria v Mozambique – Match Preview
Nigeria’s influential forward Peter Odemwingie is of the view that, Nigeria are psychologically ahead of their opposition. Odemwingie said: “We know Mozambique now and have a psychological edge going into that match. I’m still a bit skeptical about this opinion. They must take a cue from the 1-0 upset Gabon caused Cameroon a team they lost to twice in the qualifiers.

Nigeria captain Joseph Yobo is a huge doubt for the game after picking up an injury in the match against Benin. The defense may struggle in his absence and his likely replacement Apam will have a huge responsibility to shoulder. I’m not sure if Obafemi can start this game but we could see him come off the bench at some point in the game. Nigeria still have Obasi who has consistently shown his pace and his ability to run at defenders. Nigeria could also use the skill of Odemwingie. Striker Ayegbeni Yakubu is yet to impress me in this tournament and I’m hoping this match may be his turning point.

The Mambas have shown that they are a team that can cause surprises. In their first match against Benin, they came back from two goals to draw level. They lacked the cutting edge in the match against the Pharaohs. I’m also hoping that central defender Dario Khan would be able to recover from his shock after being the culprit of two own goals. Veteran midfielder and captain of the side Tico Tico will want to be at his best since this might well be his last African Cup. If they can stick to their fluid Dutch style football and rediscover their scoring boots Nigeria, may have something to worry about.

Prediction
Nigeria has the depth and quality to carry the day. Mozambique can pull a surprise if they can sharpen up their attack. Most people will not agree with me but it’s surely anybody’s game. An early goal for Mozambique would set the match up. I would stay on the fence in this one.

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