Nigeria vs Guinea-Bissau: 5 key players to watch

Nigeria and Guinea-Bissau are set to renew their recent football rivalry on Monday as the Group A at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2024) matches conclude.

The two teams faced off in the qualifiers for the Africa Cup of Nations, experiencing varying degrees of success.

 The Djurtus stunned the Super Eagles with a 1-0 victory in Abuja in March last year during the qualifying series for AFCON 2024, with Mama Balde scoring the winning goal in the 29th minute.

Nigeria secured revenge four days later in Bissau, as a Moses Simon penalty in the 30th minute ensured the Super Eagles left with all three points.

Monday's game marks another instalment in the ongoing series between the two sides.

Here are five players to watch out for in the Guinea-Bissau versus Nigeria match on Monday.

Ola Aina (Nigeria)

Photo by Icon Sport

The Nottingham Forest defender has started two of Nigeria's games so far in the tournament and was one of the best players for the Eagles on the pitch against the Ivorians.

Aina can play as a full-back and wing-back, which has come in handy for Jose Peseiro whenever he wants to switch from 4-3-3 to 3-5-2. Opta rated him as the defender with the most tackles won – 7, against Ivory Coast in the 1-0 win for Nigeria.

He'll definitely be one of the first names on Jose Peseiro's list when Nigeria take on Guinea-Bissau.

William Troost-Ekong (Nigeria)

Photo by Icon Sport

 Vice-captain of the Super Eagles and one of the most experienced players in the team, he has shown his leadership qualities at the back so far in the tournament.

Ekong scored the penalty that gave Nigeria the three points against the Ivorians, but that is just one part of what he did in that game.

The PAOK Salonika defender has been solid so far for Nigeria, with excellent tackles and defending in the two games Nigeria has played.

The game against Guinea-Bissau will be another chance to continue his resurgence with the national team after some difficult moments during the qualifiers.

Mame Balde (Guinea-Bissau)

Photo by Icon Sport

The midfielder is the linchpin in Guinea-Bissau's midfield and was able to create a few chances in his side's 4-2 loss to Equatorial Guinea. Big, strong, and built like a tank, he brings his physicality to bear during games, as he has shown in the two games his side has played so far.

The 28-year-old, who also plays for Troyes in Ligue 2 on loan from Lyon, has also been used on the wings by coach Baciro Candé. He will be relied upon when Guinea-Bissau faces Nigeria on Monday, with his pace and strength being assets to his team.

Balde will look to upset Nigeria again, just like he did when he scored the winning goal in Abuja when the two teams met in qualification last year.

Sori Mane (Guinea Bissau)

Nigeria Super Eagles AFCON 2024
Photo by Icon Sport

The defensive stalwart has been one of the top performers for a disappointing Guinea-Bissau team at the Africa Cup of Nations. Mane will have his hands full against Nigeria's front line and will need to be at his best.

Strong in the air and forceful in the tackle, he was one of the better performers as the Djurtus lost to Equatorial Guinea in the last group game.

The 27-year-old, who currently plays in the Portuguese second division with Académico de Viseu, will aim to be at his best to help his team secure a positive result against the Super Eagles on Monday.

Frank Onyeka (Nigeria)

Photo by Icon Sport

Much unheralded in the Super Eagles setup, he goes about his business in midfield with diligence and dedication.

Not known for doing anything flashy, Onyeka's defensive work and tireless running in the midfield have been key for the Super Eagles, especially in the second group game against the Ivorians.

The game against Guinea-Bissau will be a physical one like the last two games the countries have played, and Nigeria will surely look to Onyeka to plug the holes in the middle and hold firm for Nigeria.

Nigeria vs Guinea-Bissau: 5 key players to watch
Andrew Randa

Andrew Randa is a seasoned Africa sports journalist, and a former Media Officer for Nigeria's U-20 national team. He is widely acknowledged as an authority on the NPFL and African football, Randa is esteemed for his expertise in football content creation. Furthermore, he holds the distinction of being Nigeria's foremost sports kit designer and a trailblazer in the realm of sports graphics in Nigeria.