Preview: Nigeria vs Mali - International friendly

Preview: Nigeria vs Mali - International friendly

  • In what promises to be an electrifying encounter, Nigeria's Super Eagles are poised to clash with the Eagles of Mali in an international friendly on Tuesday, March 26th, 2024, in Marrakech, Morocco.

This showdown marks the second and final friendly match for the two teams during this international break.

At the Grande Stade de Marrakech on Friday, goals from Cyriel Dessers and Ademola Lookman helped Nigeria secure a 2-1 victory over Ghana, the Super Eagles' first win against the Black Stars in 18 years.

On the same day and at the same venue, Mali soared to a fine 2-0 triumph over Mauritania.

For Nigeria's newly appointed interim coach, Finidi George, this match is a crucial platform to further embed his tactical vision and evaluate player combinations ahead of the looming World Cup qualifiers in June.

Mali, equally hungry for success, will aim to use this fixture to gauge their own strengths and build momentum for the upcoming challenges on the road to the World Cup.

Head-to-head record

In the annals of their historical meetings, Nigeria boast a dominant record over Mali, emerging victorious in six out of eleven meetings, with three draws and two losses.

Mali won two of their first-ever three matches against Nigeria, but the Francophone nation has not defeated the Super Eagles since a 4-1 international friendly win in 1975.

The Super Eagles' most memorable victory over the Malians was a 4-1 semifinal triumph en route to lifting the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa.

The most recent clash between these footballing powerhouses occurred in a 2016 international friendly, where Nigeria clinched victory with a solitary Kelechi Iheanacho goal, sealing the match with a 1-0 scoreline.

Key players to watch

Eyes will be on the pitch as standout players showcase their prowess.

For Nigeria, the spotlight falls on Ademola Lookman, who has found the net in four of his last five games for the Super Eagles.

Fulham midfielder Alex Iwobi and Chippa United goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali are other players to watch out for.

Mali, in turn, will pin their hopes on talents such as El Bilal Toure, Amadou Haidara, and Hamari Traore to deliver a stellar performance.

Nigerian team news

Caretaker coach Finidi has vowed to name a significantly different starting eleven from the side that defeated Ghana last week.

A goalkeeper change could see Stanley Nwabali dropped for Francis Uzoho.

Calvin Bassey will likely be unavailable as reports suggest he has picked up an injury and could be on his way back to London already.

Fisayo Dele-Bashiru, Alhassan Yusuf, and Nathan Tella did not feature at all last time out, and they are odds-on favourites to start on Tuesday.

Umar Sadiq and Ademola Lookman could get the nod against Mali, as Kelechi Iheanacho and Cyriel Dessers were the preferred strikers against the Black Stars

Nigeria's expected starting lineup (3-5-2):
Uzoho; Awaziem, Omeruo, Ajayi; Onyedika, Yusuf, Iwobi, Tella, Collins; Lookman, Sadiq.

Match details

Competition: International friendly
Match: Nigeria vs Mali
Venue: Grand Stade de Marrakech
Date: Tuesday, 26 March 2024
Kickoff time: 9 pm (Nigerian time)

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