In previewing the upcoming Nations Cup qualifiers, one of the most anticipated matches will be between Nigeria and South Africa. Nigeria last fought with South Africa in November 2014, when they fought to a 2-2 draw, which kept Nigeria out of the 2015 Nations Cup. Now, Nigeria head coach Gernot Rohr hopes that he can muster up a strong performance from a squad that is heavier with prospects than in the last meeting. Meanwhile, head coach Stuart Baxter is hoping to get South Africa back to the top of the continent. Ghana versus Ethiopia is also expected to be hard-fought. Ghana is being led by Kwesi Appiah in a second stint, and is in danger of falling out of qualifying for the World Cup. Meanwhile, Ethiopia is considered an up and comer in the continent, despite a recent loss in the African Confederations Cup qualifiers against Algeria, so this won’t be necessarily an easy obstacle for Ghana to cross if they’re distracted or caught looking ahead.
Another target for fans of African football is the squad from the Ivory Coast. They are favorites for their next match against Guinea, and candidates for Nations Cup champion. However, in the last tournament, Ivory Coast were also favorites when they fell in the first round. So, it is hoped that Ivory Coast can bounce back from their last match result, a loss to the Netherlands, and fulfill their promise with a tournament-defining victory on the road. Another squad needing to recover from a bad time at the last tournament was Algeria, who couldn’t get out of the group stage in 2015. Lucas Alcaraz has since taken over for Georges Leekens and hopes to reverse Leekens’ results with a win against Togo on Saturday. Meanwhile, Kenya is preparing for a match with Sierra Leone and hoping for a continuation of steady improvement shown by the squad since the hiring of coach Stanley Okumbi in February of last year.