Thursday, June 13, 2024

Preview: Zimbabwe vs. Nigeria – prediction, team news, lineups – Sports Mole


Zimbabwe and Nigeria will be looking to pick up their first win of the 2026 World Cup qualifiers when they go head to head at the Huye Stadium on Sunday.
The Super Eagles, who are unbeaten in each of their last six games against the Warriors, will be seeking to extend their dominance and get their qualifying campaign up and running.

Zimbabwe's Kudakwashe Mahachi celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates on January 18, 2022© Reuters
Zimbabwe kicked off their quest for a place in the 2026 World Cup on a decent note as they held Rwanda to a goalless draw at Butare’s Huye Stadium.
This was a first competitive outing for the Warriors since January 2022, when they picked up a 2-1 victory over Guinea in Group B of the Africa Cup of Nations courtesy of goals from Knowledge Musona and Kudakwashe Mahachi.
Since then, Baltemar Brito‘s men have featured in just one warm-up friendly fixture, which came back in September when they were held to a 1-1 draw by Botswana at the Botswana National Stadium.
Zimbabwe, who are currently 125th in the latest FIFA World Rankings, have now failed to win 14 of their last 15 matches across all competitions, losing nine and claiming five draws since March 2021.
This run saw the Southern Africans go without tasting victory in qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup as they lost four of their six matches while claiming two draws to collect just two points from a possible 18 and finish rock bottom in Group G.
Next up for Zimbabwe is the challenge of going up against Nigeria, who they have failed to get the better of in their last six meetings, losing four and claiming two draws since a 2-0 friendly victory in August 1981.
Nigeria, on the other hand, were left with a sour taste of disappointment in the Group C opener as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Lesotho at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium on Thursday.
With nothing to separate the sides after the first half, Motlomelo Mkwanazi broke the deadlock against the run of play to put Lesotho ahead in the 56th minute but Semi Ajayi found the back of the net 11 minutes later to force a share of the spoils.
Prior to that, Nigeria were on a run of three competitive wins on the bounce, beating Guinea-Bissau, Sierra Leone and Sao Tome and Principe to clinch top spot in Group A of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
However, the Super Eagles have now gone six straight games without defeat across all competitions, picking up four wins and two draws since March’s 1-0 home loss against Guinea-Bissau.
Nigeria, who were absent in Qatar last year, will now look to hit top gear as they eye their first World Cup appearance since 2018, when they won one of their three matches to crash out in the group stages.

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Nigeria's Odion Ighalo celebrates scoring their first goal with team mates on July 6, 2019© Reuters
Exeter City striker Admiral Muskwe was forced off with a game-ending injury inside the opening half-hour against Rwanda and is a major doubt for Sunday’s clash.
In his absence, Supersport United forward Terrence Dzvukamanja will push for a place in the XI, forming the two-man front line with 26-year-old Prince Dube.
Luton Town’s Marvelous Nakamba should retain his role in the centre of the park, while we expect an unchanged back three of Gerald Takwara, Teenage Hadebe and Divine Lunga.
Despite Thursday’s disappointing result, we expect Nigeria to name a similar XI, with Victor Boniface and Taiwo Awoniyi leading the attack in the absence of the injured Victor Osimhen.
Brentford’s Frank Onyeka should team up with Alex Iwobi in midfield, while Ajayi and Calvin Bassey should form the centre-back pairing shielding Francis Uzoho between the sticks.

Zimbabwe possible starting lineup:
Bernard; Takwara, Hadebe, Lunga; Mbeba, Munetsi, Nakamba, Band, Musona; Dube, Dzvukamanja
Nigeria possible starting lineup:
Uzoho; Osayi-Samuel, Ajayi, Bassey, Collins; Onyeka, Iwobi, Iheanacho, Lookman; Boniface, Awoniyi

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In their final outing before the Africa Cup of Nations takes centre stage in January, Nigeria will be looking to pick up a morale-boosting result. The Super Eagles boast a superior and more experienced squad and we are backing them to return to winning ways this weekend.

For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.


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