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Nigeria vs Ghana – Whose Jollof is the best?

Nigeria vs Ghana - Whose Jollof is the best?

Dubbed the ‘Jollof Derby’ due to the ongoing banter between citizens of both nations about who makes the best Jollof rice, the upcoming match guarantees an enthralling spectacle.

When the Super Eagles and Black Stars clash, it’s more than just a friendly; it’s a fiercely contested battle every time.

It has been precisely two years since Nigeria last faced Ghana in a 2022 Fifa World Cup playoff. The Black Stars emerged victorious with away goals, securing their qualification for the tournament in Qatar later that year. The memory of that match still remains fresh in the minds of many Super Eagles fans, who now seek redemption in the upcoming friendly.

As both teams prepare for the showdown, significant changes have occurred, especially in the coaching staff. EPRODITY delves into these changes, while also providing insights into players who will participate and those who will be absent from the encounter.

Historical battle

Nigeria’s last victory against Ghana dates back some 18 years to the Africa Cup of Nations held in Egypt in 2006. Since then, the six encounters between these teams have either favoured Ghana or ended in a draw. The Black Stars’ dominance will further solidify if they avoid defeat against the Super Eagles on Friday.

Notably, a friendly match resulted in the dismissal of a coach after Ghana defeated Nigeria 4-1 in a match played in London on February 6, 2007. Coach Austin Eguaveon was swiftly replaced by Berti Vogts following the disappointing loss. This defeat marked Nigeria’s most significant drop in Fifa rankings to date, plummeting from ninth position to 20th.

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The clash between Nigeria and Ghana carries profound significance, encapsulating the intense rivalry and cultural pride shared between these two nations.

Super Eagles post Afcon 2023

The Super Eagles have undergone a transition from Jose Peseiro and will now be led by Finidi George.

Peseiro’s tenure initially faced skepticism, but he ultimately won over a significant portion of the supporters by guiding Nigeria to the final of Afcon 2023 in Ivory Coast. Despite achieving this feat, criticism arose due to his reluctance to rotate players, resulting in fatigue and diminished performance levels by the final match.

Following Peseiro’s departure at the end of February, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has appeared uncertain about the team’s technical direction. Despite announcing the search for a new head coach, the Federation has appointed George as an interim coach for the friendlies against Ghana and Mali this month.

This lack of clarity could overshadow the positives from the Afcon, leaving Nigeria uncertain about its future style and philosophy. The interim technical staff’s efforts under George may not be sustained by the next coach, further contributing to the ambiguity surrounding the team’s trajectory.

Addo steps in to rebuild Black Stars

In contrast to the perceived indecision within the ranks of Nigeria, Ghana finds itself experiencing a rare sense of forward momentum. The Black Stars faced disappointment at Afcon in Ivory Coast, exiting at the group stage despite being grouped with Cape Verde and Mozambique.

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In the five weeks since then, the Ghana Football Association (GFA) has taken proactive steps to restore stability. Unlike Nigeria, whose technical direction remains uncertain, the Ghana FA swiftly re-appointed Otto Addo as head coach of the Black Stars.

Addo previously led Ghana to victory over the Super Eagles in the playoff to qualify for the 2022 World Cup. He served as an interim coach at the time, stepping down immediately after the tournament in Qatar.

Coincidentally, Addo’s return – this time on an initial three-year contract with an option to extend for an additional 24 months – aligns with another match against Nigeria. While the Super Eagles may be considered favourites following their strong performance at Afcon, Addo and the Black Stars currently enjoy stability and a clear technical direction, a contrast to the uncertainties faced by their Nigerian counterparts.

Kudus blow…

Initially included in the 26-man squad selected by Addo for the upcoming matches against Nigeria and Uganda, Kudus’s participation has been curtailed.

The former Nordsjaelland midfielder is reported to have sustained a shoulder injury during West Ham’s recent 1-1 draw with Aston Villa in the Premier League. Despite completing the full match, Kudus later experienced discomfort in his shoulder and has been advised by medical professionals to remain in London for recovery.

Kudus has been a pivotal figure for the Hammers, contributing significantly to their campaign. Notably, he scored a brace in the Europa League round of 16 second-leg victory over Freiburg, bringing his total tally to 11 goals for the season.

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Osimhen misses out

On the Super Eagles’ side, Napoli forward and reigning Caf Footballer of the Year Victor Osimhen has also been sidelined due to inflammation of a scar from a previous injury.

Additionally, George’s squad will be without Nottingham Forest striker Taiwo Awoniyi and Empoli’s Tyronne Ebuehi, both of whom have endured injury-plagued seasons.

Players to watch

All eyes will be on Super Eagles midfielder Alex Iwobi as he returns to the spotlight. Following the painful defeat to Ivory Coast in the final of Afcon 2023, where Iwobi faced cyberbullying and abuse, he made a comeback to the team in top shape and form. His stellar performances for Fulham since returning to Craven Cottage from Ivory Coast have been noteworthy.

On the other hand, Iwobi’s teammate, Ademola Lookman was a revelation for his nation at Afcon, scoring three goals and getting into the team of the tournament. He will be hoping to continue his form against the Black Stars.

Meanwhile, talented Leicester City forward Fatawu Issahaku, who previously turned down the chance to represent Ghana at Afcon, is back with the Black Stars. Issahaku has been instrumental in Leicester’s bid for an immediate return to the Premier League after their relegation last season.

With an impressive record of three goals and 10 assists this season for the Foxes, the 20-year-old now has the opportunity to make amends and shine on the pitch, particularly against fierce rivals Nigeria.

 

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