Preview: Ghana vs. Nigeria

Preview: Ghana vs. Nigeria

The race for a place in Qatar kicks on as two African powerhouses in Ghana and Nigeria go head to head in the first of their two-legged playoff tie at the Baba Yara Sports Stadium on Friday.

Having failed to win any of the last four meetings between the sides since 2006, the Super Eagles will head into the game seeking to get one over their West African counterparts and strengthen their qualification chances.

Ghana endured an underwhelming campaign at the Africa Cup of Nations, where they suffered a shock group-stage exit after picking up just one point from three games in Group C.

Having lost 1-0 against Morocco in their opening game, the Black Stars played out a 1-1 draw with Gabon in their second outing before suffering a disappointing 3-2 defeat at the hands of debutants Comoros in the group finale.

Ghana will now look to quickly put that poor run behind them as they turn their sights to the World Cup qualifying playoffs, where they have been drawn against West African rivals Nigeria after narrowly clinching first place in Group G of the qualifiers.

Having picked up 10 points from their opening five games, Otto Addo’s men needed all three points in their final group game against South Africa on November 14 to progress to the next phase of the qualifiers.

Former Swansea City man Andre Ayew was calm under pressure as he converted his 33rd-minute penalty to send Ghana top of the group, leapfrogging the Bafana Bafana on goal difference, and into the playoffs.

While Ghana will be looking to pick up where they dropped off in their bid for a place in Qatar, they have struggled to get going in recent outings, losing three and claiming one draw from their most recent four games.

Meanwhile, Nigeria went unbeaten in all but one of their six games in the World Cup qualifiers, picking up four wins and one draw to collect 13 points to finish top of Group C, two points above runners-up Cape Verde.

The Super Eagles’ only defeat came at the hands of Central African Republic back in October, when Karl Namnganda scored a 90th-minute winner to hand the visitors a shock victory.

Nigeria head into Friday’s game fresh off the back of a last-16 exit from the Africa Cup of Nations after they suffered a 1-0 loss against Tunisia courtesy of Youssef Msakni’s solitary strike.

Prior to that defeat, Augustine Eguavoen’s side were on a six-game unbeaten run, claiming one draw and five wins, including three in their three AFCON group-stage games.

While Nigeria will be looking to quickly return to winning ways, next up is an opposing side who they have failed to defeat in each of the most recent four meetings between the sides, losing three and claiming one draw since a 1-0 victory back in 2006.

Ghana World Cup Qualifying – Africa form:
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Ghana form (all competitions):
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Nigeria World Cup Qualifying – Africa form:
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Nigeria form (all competitions):
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We say: Ghana 0-2 Nigeria
Fresh off the back of a disappointing run at the Africa Cup of Nations, Ghana will be seeking to restore some pride and claim bragging rights over their West African counterparts. However, going up against the Super Eagles is a tricky test for any side, given their strengths in all departments of the pitch. We predict Nigeria will come away with a slender win, giving the Black Stars an uphill task in the return leg.

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