Nigeria will be aiming to recover from Friday’s defeat to Algeria when they take on Tunisia in an international friendly at Jacques Lemans Arena in Austria on Tuesday night.
Gernot Rohr‘s team saw a three-game winning run come to an end against Algeria, but Tunisia will enter the clash with the Super Eagles off the back of a 3-0 victory over Sudan on the same night.
Nigeria’s clash against Algeria was actually their first contest for almost 12 months due to the coronavirus outbreak, and it proved to be a disappointing return to the field as an early effort from Ramy Bensebaini handed the Africa Cup of Nations holders a narrow win.
Rohr’s team have not been in competitive action since a 4-2 win over Lesotho last November, which made it back-to-back victories at the start of their Africa Cup of Nations qualification group.
The Super Eagles are currently top of Group L, and Tuesday’s game will act as valuable preparation as they build towards their next qualification game against Sierra Leone on November 13, before facing the same opponents in the reverse fixture four days later.
Rohr has not been able to select his strongest squad for the two friendlies, with Leicester City’s Wilfred Ndidi and Napoli’s Victor Osimhen notable absentees.
Nigeria’s squad is still full of talent, though, and the likes of Everton’s Alex Iwobi and Villarreal’s Samuel Chukwueze should both be in action for the three-time Africa Cup of Nations winners.
Tunisia, meanwhile, will enter the match off the back of a 3-0 win over Sudan on Friday, with Saif-Eddine Khaoui, Ali Maaloul and Anis Ben Slimane scoring the goals in the international friendly.
Like Nigeria, Mondher Kebaier‘s side will resume their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualification campaign next month, facing Tanzania in back-to-back games on November 13 and November 17.
Tunisia have also picked up two wins thus far, beating Libya and Equatorial Guinea to top Group J with six points, and they will be eyeing six more points when they return to competitive action in a month.
These two sides last locked horns in the third-place playoff at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, and it was Nigeria that triumphed 1-0 courtesy of an early goal from on-loan Manchester United forward Odion Ighalo.
Interestingly, both teams have won six of their previous 19 meetings in all competitions, with the further seven encounters finishing level, but this will be their first friendly game since 1992.
Nigeria International Friendlies form: DWDDDL
Nigeria form (all competitions): LDWWWL
Tunisia International Friendlies form: WWWLDW
Tunisia form (all competitions): WDWWWW
As mentioned, Nigeria are without two key players in the shape of Ndidi and Osimhen, but Rohr has still selected an experienced squad, and there are not expected to be too many changes from the side that started against Algeria.
Iwobi and Chukwueze should again feature in forward positions, while there could be a start for Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho at the tip of the attack.
Rangers centre-back Leon Balogun featured alongside Watford’s William Troost-Ekong against Algeria and that could again be the case on Tuesday, while Ola Aina is pushing for a spot at left-back.
As for Tunisia, former Sunderland attacker Wahbi Khazri is the leading scorer in the squad with 19 goals, and the 29-year-old should again feature in the final third of the field.
There could also be another start for Juventus Under-23s attacker Hamza Rafia, while Khaoui was on the scoresheet against Sudan and is likely to continue in a forward area.
Ferjani Sassi is among the most experienced members of the Tunisian squad with 56 caps, but the 28-year-old was not involved against Sudan and could again be on the bench for this contest.
Nigeria possible starting lineup:
Okoye, Ebuehi, Troost-Ekong, Balogun, Sanusi; Ayaji, Onyeka; Chukwueze, Iwobi, Kalu; Iheanacho
Tunisia possible starting lineup:
Ben Cherifia; Kechrida, Bronn, Mariah, Maaloul; Slimane, Skhiri, Ben Mohamed; Rafia, Khazri, Khaoui