The 2022 World Cup qualification tie between Nigeria and Ghana will come down to a one-game showdown, as the teams meet for the second leg of their CAF Third Round playoff tie at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja on Tuesday 29 March.

Kick-off is at 7:00pm CAT.

The teams met in the first leg at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi on Friday night, playing out a 0-0 draw. Ghana dominated most of the match, though in truth they created few clear chances with which to test Nigerian goalkeeper Francis Uzoho.

In fact, Black Stars striker Jordan Ayew was even jeered when he was substituted late in the game – a harsh reception for a player who had put in a huge shift, but understandable in the frustrating circumstances which saw the hosts unable to make the most of home advantage.

The Super Eagles showed resilience in defence and patience in attack, with a few glimpses of danger from Moses Simon and Victor Osimhen – though the latter was mostly kept under wraps by Daniel Amartey.

Nigeria also felt that they were unjustly denied a penalty. Referee Redouane Jiyed initially awarded a spot-kick in the second half for a hand-ball on the ground from Baba Iddrisu – who had been pressured into a mistake by a high press – but a VAR review showed that the Ghana midfielder had been tripped by Victor Osimhen before handling, thus the spot-kick decision was correctly rescinded.

A similar pressure will surely fall on Tunisian official Sadok Selmi for the second leg in Abuja, with tension and rivalry set to come to a boil for these two West African heavyweights as they complete their battle for a spot at Qatar 2022.

Duels to watch

  • Moses Simon v Dennis Odoi

Simon was one of Nigeria’s best-attacking outlets, using his pace and ability to cut inside from the left flank and cause trouble for Ghana. This time around Odoi will be wise to his direct opponent’s moves and will look to keep him quiet come Tuesday night.

  • Victor Osimhen v Daniel Amartey

These two heavyweights had a thunderous battle in the first leg in Kumasi, and are sure to clash again in Abuja. Amartey did just enough to ensure Osimhen had a quiet game, but the Napoli forward will he hungry to break free of the shackles in the return game.

William Troost-Ekong v Felix Afena-Gyan

Though Nigeria’s defence generally stood up well to the pressure applied by Ghana in the first leg, one of the potential points of weakness was Afena-Gyan isolating Troost-Ekong and looking to use his pace to devastating effect – and it could be a key weapon on the counter-attack for the Black Stars.

What the teams are saying

  • Nigeria coach Augustine Eguavoen

“Ghana team is not a team you can brush aside with one arm because they are a very good team. I have followed Ghana nearly all my entire career. The performance they put on [Friday] was expected, [but] I would like to congratulate my boys, they were able to soak up the pressure and took control of the game in the second half. Again you know Ghana yes they were on top of their game, but they didn’t have any clear cut chances. But we had two clear cut chances. We should have won, but a draw, I think we are okay.”

“First of all, we did well even though we made some mistakes but we started well, there was just a little bit of fatigue and it made Nigeria come into the game more […] We watch a lot of matches, me and my squad… and I think we know what each of them is capable of.”

– The venue for this match was renamed the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in 2019, in honour of the man who was widely believed to have won the 1993 presidential election in Nigeria only for the democratic process to be cancelled by the military government of Ibrahim Babangida.

– Nigeria will be playing in Abuja for the first time since a 2-2 draw with Guinea in October 2011 as part of the qualifiers for the following year’s Africa Cup of Nations.

– Nigeria’s first home match against Ghana was in October 1951 in Lagos, with the hosts winning 5-0.

In head-to-head stats, Ghana and Nigeria have met in 57 matches across all competitions dating back as far as 1950. The Black Stars have 25 wins compared to 12 for the Super Eagles, while 20 games have been drawn.

Nigeria have a record of eight wins, nine draws and three defeats from 20 home matches against Ghana.

While the teams’ first-leg clash in Kumasi last Friday is obviously their most recent battle, the last time they met on Nigerian soil was way back in May 2003, with the Super Eagles winning 3-1 in an LG Cup semifinal in Abuja thanks to goals from Aiyegbeni Yakuku (two) and Joseph Enakarhire.

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