Nigeria will look to stymie Madagascar’s hopes of reaching the quarterfinals of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations when the teams meet in a Group B clash at the Alexandria Stadium on Sunday.
Barea have claimed four points in the pool thus far and stand on the verge of joining Nigeria in the last eight: Hector Cuper’s side need only a draw to ensure they cannot be overhauled by Guinea, who face eliminated Burundi in a concurrent match at the Al Salam Stadium in Cairo.
A win will be even better for the South Africans, allowing them to leapfrog into top spot and ensure they remain in Alexandria and face the third A, C, D.
Nigeria have struggled for goals over the past eight months, and their lack of a clinical touch has the potential to undermine their overall performances in this tournament.
However, two 1-0 wins have put the Super Eagles in a strong position to win this group, with anything less than that deemed to be a setback when considering where they would prefer to be placed in the knockout stages.
Odion Ighalo’s 77th-minute strike against Burundi got Nigeria off to the perfect start, before Kenneth Omeruo found a late goal to get his nation past Guinea earlier this week.
Boss Gernot Rohr will acknowledge that his team must improve if they wish to win this competition for the fourth time in their history, but two clean sheets in a row will no doubt fill the German with optimism going forward.
Madagascar will provide a different type of opponent on Sunday, one which may look to frustrate Nigeria when they are misfiring at the other end of the pitch.
However, there remains a gulf in class between the teams, and this is an opportunity for Nigeria to rediscover some form in the final third.