When Nigeria plays Lesotho in their opening Group C match on Thursday at Godswill Akpbio Stadium, they will be looking to start their CAF World Cup qualifying campaign with a victory.
While South Africa, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe, Nigeria’s opponents, are all capable of pulling off upsets, Nigeria is the clear favorite to win the group of death, ahead of Benin and South Africa.
This time around, the African heavyweights will be desperate to make up for their disappointment after missing out on qualification for the past World Cup due to an away goal defeat by Ghana.
Lesotho, meanwhile, is expected to struggle in Group C following a very poor African Cup of Nations campaign, but a successful showing here could give them a morale boost early on.
The Crocodiles managed just one point in their six games and ended bottom of their group, which also included Comoros, Zambia, and the Ivory Coast. At home, they held The Elephants to a 0-0 tie.
Lesotho did, however, demonstrate significant growth in the COSAFA Cup earlier this year, as they advanced to the final where they were defeated 1-0 by Zambia after topping their group with six points in three games.
Here is how both teams line up.
With the absence of Wilfred Ndidi, Kelechi Iheanacho captains the team with Victor Boniface leading the forward in the absence of Victor Osimhen.
Nigeria Starting XI
Lesotho Starting XI