An epic clash looms as Nigeria hosts arch-rivals Ghana in the second-leg of the 2022 FIFA World Cup playoff today, Tuesday, March 29, 2022, with the result deciding which side qualifies for the competition to be played in Qatar later this year.
The West African rivals face off at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja at 17: 00 hrs GMT in what is the decider between the two sides after the first-leg failed to produce a result. The Black Stars arrived in Nigeria around 13:30 pm Nigerian time on Monday and trained at the Moshood Abiola stadium in Abuja ahead of the match.
Ghana’s interim coach, Otto Addo, and his staff, led the 26 players through the session on Monday evening. Reports say Ghana has no fitness concerns ahead of Tuesday’s match as youngster Felix Afena-Gyan declared himself fit after being taken off in Friday’s game with a thigh concern.
Coach Otto Addo addressed the media on Monday ahead of the crucial game against rivals Nigeria. He said both sides are equally balanced and everything can happen in Abuja, insisting his team is not under pressure. Otto Addo hinted that the Black Stars will go all out to have fun on the pitch, making sure they qualify for the world cup.
Find the full pre-match press conference in the attached video:
Barren First Leg In Kumasi
The Black Stars were held to a goalless draw in Friday’s match at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium in Kumasi which left the return encounter delicately poised.
Both sides had good chances of winning the game but the two goalkeepers, Joojo Wallocot and Francis Uzoho of Ghana and Nigeria respectively, were on top form to prevent the opponent from breaking the deadlock.
Ghanaian youngsters, Felix Afena-Gyan, Abdul Fatahu Issahaku and Mohammed Kudus were all denied by Uzoho’s heroic performance, while Wallocot pulled off an astonishing save to deny Leicester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho.
Permutations for qualification
The Black Stars need at least a scoring draw to be able to advance to the World Cup which will completely transform the fortunes of the team. The World Cup play-offs followed Ghana’s unimpressive showing at the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations last month where the team crashed out at the group stage without winning a match.
Since then, former international winger, Otto Addo, was appointed as the interim coach to take over from Milovan Rajevac who was sacked after the tournament in Cameroon.
On the other hand, Nigeria must win its match against Ghana in Abuja today to be able to qualify for the World Cup which would be its fourth successive appearance at the global tournament.
The Super Eagles coach, Augustine Eguavoen, admits his team must be at its best to be able to defeat the Black Stars even though it would be playing at home.
Unlike Ghana, Nigeria has some injury worries as midfielder, Innocent Bonke, picked up a hamstring injury in the first leg. Also, speedy winger, Samuel Chukwueze, may not be available for the reverse fixture due to a muscular injury.
The Black Stars will be chasing their fourth appearance at the World Cup while the Super Eagles of Nigeria are seeking their fourth World Cup qualification in a row and a seventh overall.
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