Nigeria will resume their quest for a spot at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations against Egypt this Friday at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna.
The Super Eagles trail group leaders the Pharaohs of Egypt by two points which make the game more important considering the Eagles cannot afford to drop more points.
The winners of the group pick the sole ticket for Gabon 2017 which adds more importance to the game.
Preparations for the game have not exactly been top-stacked considering Nigeria will be having a third coach and a third captain less than a year after the qualifiers started.
Stephen Keshi, who led Nigeria to a 2-0 win over Chad in the first game of Group G, was ousted by the Nigeria Football Federation and replaced with Sunday Oliseh.
His reign barely lasted seven months as he unceremoniously resigned from his post citing breach of contract amongst other sundry accusations.
Samson Siasia has been saddled with the responsibility the Super Eagle albeit on a temporary basis as the Afcon qualifier against Egypt looms in the background.
Nigeria have had three captains in the course of the Afcon qualification. Vincent Enyeama, Ahmed Musa and now John Obi Mikel (pictured above).
It will be Siasia’s first game in charge since failing to qualify Nigeria for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations, a feat he will do to avert with the back-to-back games against the Pharaohs a stern test for the former FC Nantes player.
Nigeria and Egypt have had a long history between the two sides across all levels of football over the years.
The first time the two sides met at full international level was in January 1960 with Nigeria edging the Egyptians 2-1.
There has been 16 other matches since then with Nigeria winning six times, losing five and drawing five in a 56-year period.
Egypt, like Nigeria, missed the last edition and will try to make up for lost time.
The Pharaohs, seven-time winners of the Afcon, missed the last three editions and have handed coach Hector Cuper the mandate to get them back to the premier African football event.
Siasia will look to get all three points at stake to leapfrog Egypt into first place pending the return leg in Alexandria.
The Super Eagles struggled against Tanzania in Dar es Salaam in the last game. Despite drawing the game. They will surely count it as a point gained rather than two points lost.
The die is cast. The Eagles are condemned to win and start ramping up the points on board beginning with the game against Egypt in Kaduna.
Nigeria will be without Leon Balogun and Kenneth Omeruo for the all-important clash which will definitely limit Siasia’s choices at centre-back considering no replacement has been called up.
Ogenyi Onazi will also sit out the game in Kaduna after his red card against Chad but will be available for the return leg in Alexandria.
Mostafa Fathi will be missing for Egypt after the exciting winger sustained an injury last week. He has since been replaced by Al Ahly’s Mohmen Mostafa.
Left-back Mohamed Abdel-Shafty is also out of the game alongside first-choice goalkeeper Sheriff Ekramy who did not make the trip to Nigeria.
Veteran goalkeeper Essam El-Hadary made the trip to Nigeria but has been ruled out of the encounter with medial calf injury.