The 2023 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) quarter-final clash between the Super Eagles of Nigeria and the Palancas Negras of Angola easily fits to be tagged the battle of the highest versus lowest ranked teams left in Ivory Coast.
Ranked 42nd in the current FIFA Rankings, Nigeria are the highest-ranked side left in the competition following the exit of Morocco (13th), reigning champions Senegal (20th), Tunisia (28th), Algeria (30th), and Egypt (33rd).
In contrast, Angola are the lowest-ranked team (117th) left at AFCON 2023.
Nigeria will aim to beat Angola in the quarter-final of the competition today in a hunt for their fourth AFCON title and their first in 10 years – since 2013.
Without a doubt, Nigeria will be going into the match as odds-on favourites. The Super Eagles have a better head-to-head record with four wins, two draws, and one defeat against Angola.
The Nigerian team parades an array of starpower in the reigning African footballer of the year Victor Osimhen, midfielder Ademola Lookman, and a host of top players while Angola relies on the experience of Mabululu and the pace of Gelson Dala.
While history and high-profile players are likely to be an edge for Nigeria, 2013 AFCON winner, Kenneth Omeruo, who has featured all matches for the Super Eagles in the tournament, described the match against Angola as a serious business.
The Nigerian defender, however, said he is confident that Angola will bite the dust by the final blast of the referee’s whistle.
“We have absolutely no need to go into back-and-forth chatter with any team. The Super Eagles are in Cote d’Ivoire for serious business,” Omeruo said.
“We have not played Angola for a long time but I remember we played them in 2012 in a friendly and it ended in a draw.
“I have also read of how previous encounters between the two countries have been quite close.
“There is no possibility of Friday’s match ending in a draw, a winner must emerge. So much talk has been going on. Our collective resolve is to do the talking on the pitch. The Nigeria Spirit trumps all.”