Africa Cup of Nations: Introducing Nigeria’s group-stage opponents

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The Super Eagles learned the identities of their three group-stage foe on Friday, but what exactly lies in store?

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    Group B

    Nigeria were drawn into Group B of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations during a glamorous draw ceremony on the Giza Plateau, outside Cairo, on Friday.

    Things could have been much trickier for Gernot Rohr’s side, and they ought to be delighted with a group that gives them a fighting chance of qualifying for the knockout stages in top spot.

    In this feature, we introduce the Super Eagles’ three group-stage opponents.

  2. Guinea

    Fifa Ranking: 68 (12 in Africa)

    How they qualified: Started strongly, taking nine points from their opening three matches, including a win away in the Ivory Coast, but slowed as the campaign wore on. They took just three points from their final three matches.

    Nations Cup pedigree: Regular attendees, but a final defeat in 1976—when they were defeated by Morocco—represents their best effort.

    Coach: Paul Put oversaw Burkina Faso’s run to the Nations Cup final in 2013, after bouncing back from a ban for match-fixing during his time in Belgian football. He’s also managed Kenya, USM Alger, The Gambia and Jordan.

    Star Player: Naby Keita is beginning to demonstrate his qualities on a more consistent basis for Liverpool, and could yet have a key role to play in the title run-in. He’s afforded a more adventurous role with Guinea, and could cause the Super Eagles some problems.

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    Burundi

    Fifa Ranking: 136 (37 in Africa)

    How they qualified: Unbeaten, drawing home and away against both Mali and Gabon. They secured their first-ever qualification by holding Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s Panthers in Bujumbura.

    Nations Cup pedigree: Debutants

    Coach: Olivier Niyungeko is the mastermind behind Burundi’s maiden Afcon qualification, having been part of the national team set-up under previous managers. He also enjoyed domestic success with Flambeau de l’EST.

    Star Player: None of Burundi’s current team can boast the pedigree of Saido Berahino, but Fiston Abdul Razak is the star man, having proved repeatedly that he can trouble Africa’s best defences. He scored six during the qualifying campaign, four during the World Cup 2018 campaign, and five as Burundi fell short in their attempts to reach the 2017 Afcon.

    Can the JS Kabylie man do it on a bigger stage?

  4. Madagascar

    Fifa Ranking: 107 (24 in Africa)

    How they qualified: They were the first team to qualify after taking 10 points from their first four matches, including a draw against Senegal, but ended the campaign second in Group A on 10 points.

    Nations Cup pedigree: Debutants

    Coach: Nicolas Dupuis arrived in the Madagascar job after time spent in the French lower leagues, having been appointed by previous Malagasy Federation chief and current Caf President, Ahmad Ahmad.

    Star Player: Faneva Ima Andriatsima, who plays in Ligue 2 with Clermont, will lead the line and wear the armband for the Barea. He memorably scored four in a 6-2 hammering of the Comoros during the 2010 World Cup qualifying campaign.