Nigeria’s 2018 Africa Nations Championship campaign will kick off against Rwanda at the Stade Ibn Batouta on Monday.
In their respective final warm-up matches, Nigeria played a 0-0 draw with Cameroon while Rwanda slumped to a 4-1 defeat by Algeria.
The CHAN Eagles will face a side that is built on solid defending but with few technically gifted players in attack. The Amavubi of Rwanda will aim to frustrate a Nigerian team that is better adept at counter-attacking play.
Rwanda manager Antoine ‘Tony’ Hey sets up his side to defend, relying on tactical discipline. His formation will most likely swing between 4-4-1-1 and 4-2-3-1.
If there’s a plus in Rwanda’s attack ahead of the tourney in Morocco, it is Barnabe Mubumbyi, who will either start out wide on the left or behind Amran Nshimiyimana and Herve Rugwiro. Barnabe is creative on the ball and also a goal scoring threat.
Nigeria’s front three will be charged with breaking down the Rwandan defence. Rabiu Ali will most certainly be deployed as the most attacking member of Nigeria’s midfield trio, lining up in a 4-3-3/4-1-2-3 shape.
Attackers; Moses Eneji will play on the right and Austine Oladapo on the left behind Anthony Okpotu, with Oladapo expected to drift into the middle more often.
Nura Mohammed might come off the bench to make a vital contribution or could start in a supporting striker role behind Okpotu.
If either side has any chance of progressing from Group C, this game is a must-win. Nigeria are the favourites in this matchup but it will be a tight contest. A single goal could potentially decide the clash.
The 2018 CHAN competition will run from January 13 to February 4.