Key Battles: Nigeria v Zambia
Nigeria host Zambia in Uyo state in the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier.
The Super Eagles lead the pack with 10 points, three ahead of the energetic and counter attacking young guns from Lusaka in the race for Russia 2018.
The Copper Bullets will be aiming to shoot the Super Eagles’ wings in order not to make them soar high to unassailable 13 points.
Below the ZamFoot Crew takes a look at some of the interesting duels to look out at the 35, 000 seater Godswill Akpabio Stadium.
Leon Balogun v Patson Daka– The massive central defender who plays for Mainz will be up against a very energetic and pacy Daka who had a growing reputation of tormenting defenders.
In the absence of Brian Mwila, the Red Bull Salzburg will crucial for Zambia. Despite picking up a knock on club duty, the teenage assassin has been declared fit.
“Knocks and injuries are normal in football. Unless you want to be an accountant. Yes, Brian Mwila is out injured. But Daka is ok,” the maverick Zambia coach Wedson Nyirenda confirmed in a pre-match press conference.
Wilfred Ndidi v Enock Mwepu – In midfield it will be a hard fought battle to see who will run the necessary kilometres and make the right passes to get their team going. Wilfred will be in a trio with Jon Obi Mikel and Ongenyi Onanzi while Mwepu plays in a pair with Khondwani Mtonga for Zambia.
It could prove to be tough act for ‘Computer’ against the Nigerian trio but should Nyirenda throw in an extra man and make it a midfield triumvirate then the Nigerians will remember his name.
Elderson Echiéjilé v Augustine Mulenga– The wide battle will see the vastly experienced Left back fave off a pacy and intelligent Augustine Mulenga who will be likely swapping flanks with Fashion Sakala during the game.
There could be an urgent personal issue back home for the former Nkwazi but it seems like he will start. Should he be in the right frame of mind, then the ‘assist king’ has a battle against the Echiejile.
Odion Ighalo v Stopilla Sunzu – The Chinese club Chungchan Yatai forward will have a very good go at the Arsenal Tula center half and could be pivotal to who walks out of this game victorious. Kelechi Iheanacho will also be a likely option with all his pace and instinctive positioning.
Victor Moses v Fackson Kapumbu – Really big one for Kapumbu today as he goes up against a very good contender in Uyo who was pivotal for Chelsea in their 2016/17 English Premier League triumph.
Kapumbu’s predecessor Emmanuel Mbola made his name after he kept quiet Osaze Odemwinge at the 2010 AFCON in Angola. Will the Zesco United left back follow suit?
Kapumbu might also come up against the impressive Moses Simon and Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi.
One to watch:
Chisamba Lungu (Zambia) – At 26 years old, he is already being viewed as senior statesman. While the Nigerians will be focusing on the young guns, the Turkey based playmaker could be Zambia’s secret weapon.
The ‘Zambian Ronaldinho’ has bags of tricks and his tactical awareness either in the middle of the pack or out wide will be crucial for the Copper Bullets.
Moses Simon (Nigeria) – It will be the same with the Zambian players. Kelechi, Ndidi, Iwobi, Ighalo, Ahmed Musa, Victor Moses and Obi are well known because of their involvement with English Premier League but for a young lad to keep Musa on the bench, then he must be a special talent.
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