Ghana vs Nigeria: Osimhen, Partey, Simon, seven other players to watch

Eguavoen will be banking on the lanky forward who has scored 15 goals and four assists in 25 appearances so far for Napoli to help sink the Ghanian side.
Ghana vs Nigeria: Osimhen, Partey, Simon, seven other players to watch

Super Eagles star arrived in Kumasi, Ghana on Thursday

A world Cup ticket and pride are at stake as the Black Stars of Ghana host the Super Eagles of Nigeria on Friday for the first leg of their Qatar 2022 qualifiers play-off.

The footballing bodies of both neighbouring West African countries have been trading words and ego to whet the appetite of football fans and had created a tense atmosphere for both teams come 8:30 pm local time.

Regardless, the winner of the two-legged encounter - with the return fixture set for the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja on Tuesday, 29th March, will represent Africa at the 22nd FIFA World Cup finals, scheduled for 14th November to 18th December this year in Qatar.

See nine Nigerian players to watch out for in the crucial playoff below:

Victor Osimhen (Nigeria)

Napoli's €100m man has been a centre of transfer speculations with the likes of Real Madrid, Manchester United and Arsenal reportedly interested in the Nigerian.

His return to the Super Eagles squad will be a boost for Augustine Eaguavoen's side who missed his presence(precision, speed, strength and agility) at the recently concluded Africa Cup of Nations.

Before the international break, Osimhen became the first Nigerian in history to reach the double figures of goals in two different Serie A seasons, as well as the fourth African player to do so, after George Weah, Samuel Eto'o and Mohamed Salah.

Eguavoen will be banking on the lanky forward who has scored 15 goals and four assists in 25 appearances so far for Napoli to help sink the Ghanian side.

Thomas Partey (Ghana)

Arsenal midfield general, Thomas Partey has grown in strength and confidence since he joined the London club two seasons ago from Atletico Madrid.

Beyond just being a defensive midfielder, his performance for Ghana every time he is called for duty is rock solid.

Although the Ghanaians had a poor AFCON outing in Cameroon earlier in the year, Partey's presence in the premier League is something the Super Eagles should be worried about.

The midfielder has remained unplayable since his return from AFCON, breaking up plays and helping the attack.

Odion Ighalo (Nigeria)

Another returnee to the Super Eagles fold whose addition will bring experience to the youthful Nigerian squad.

The Al Hilal striker came out of retirement in time for the AFCON but narrowly missed the tournament and his dedication to the team will be vital if he plays against Ghana on Friday.

The former Manchester United forward who has been with the national team since 2015 led Nigeria to a third-place finish at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, where he finished in the competition's Team of the Tournament and was crowned top scorer.

Having recently netted a hat-trick in Al Hilal's 4-2 win over Al Ahli in the Saudi Arabia league last Friday will be looking to increase his Super Eagles tally of 16 goals in 35 appearances.

Felix Afena-Gyan (Ghana)

Young, bold and brave, Afena-Gyan is one of the stars to watch out in this thrilling encounter.

The Roma wonderkid is becoming more influential on the pitch under Jose Mourinho’s tutelage.

Afena-Gyan plays as a forward, usually through the middle, and the signs are that the young forward has what it takes to make a name for himself in the African scene.

Born in Ghana, he was at the EurAfrica FC Academy when spotted by Roma in January of 2021.

With his goals for Roma against Genoa, he became the first player born in 2003 to score in Serie A.

As well as his finishing ability, Afena-Gyan is known for his speed.

Moses Simon (Nigeria)

Simon is another exciting player to look out for in the Nigerian team after showing the stuff he is made off at the just concluded AFCON.

The Nantes forward appears to be finding his feet at the national level after an exciting display earned him a spot in the best players of the group stages of the AFCON.

Simon is a skilful attacker who picks into defence and should the Nigerian side need a player to create chances, the 26-year-old would be one of those squad members to look out for.

Samuel Chukwueze (Nigeria)

Quickfooted and skilful, Chukwueze is yet another player who could be a thorn in the flesh of the equally start-studded Ghana squad.

Although the Villareal winger was a shadow of himself at the AFCON tournament in Cameroon, he appeared to have regained a bit of the form that saw him ranked amongst one of Nigeria's exciting players.

He was part of the Villareal squad that held Juventus to a 1-1 draw in the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League before heading to Turin to eliminate the two-time champions with a 3-0 victory.

Emmanuel Dennis (Nigeria)

Another striker who is capable of doing damage to the World Cup dreams of the Black Stars of Ghana is Watford's forward, Emmanuel Dennis.

The Nigerian has been one of The Hornett's best players in the 2021/22 Premier League season so far netting nine goals for the relegations-threatened side.

He was influential in the infamous 4-1 victory over Manchester United, scoring one goal and registering two assists in the game that led to the sack of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Dennis who missed the 2021 AFCON due to his club's reluctance and claims that the Nigeria Football Federation failed to make a request for the player on time will be putting the past behind him as he sets sight on featuring for the Super Eagles at the showdown in Qatar.

Jordan Pierre Ayew (Ghana)

Jordan plays as a forward for Premier League club, Crystal Palace. He is the son of former Ghana captain, Abedi Pele, and brother of fellow players André and Ibrahim Ayew.

The younger Ayew made his first senior appearance for Ghana on 5 September 2010, in a 3–0 2012 AFCON Qualification match win against Swaziland, at the Somhlolo National Stadium in Lobamba, Swaziland.

On 1 June 2012, Ayew scored his first and second international goals in a 2014 World Cup qualification match win against Lesotho, at the Kumasi Sports Stadium in Kumasi, Ghana.

He was part of the Ghanaian team in the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations that was eliminated at the group stage of the competition.

Ademola Lookman (Nigeria)

Leicester City's Ademola Lookman will be making his debut for the Super Eagles against Ghana having recently been cleared by FIFA to play for Nigeria.

Before now, the former Everton star has represented the Three Lions of England at various age-grade levels.

Lookman is one of four debutants, including Rangers' Calvin Bassey, Lorient FC's Innocent Bonke and FC Copenhagen's youngster Akinkunmi Amoo, in Augustine Eguavoen's squad.

The 24-year-old has netted four goals for Brendan Rodgers' Foxes' side and has been instrumental for the EPL side alongside his Nigerian teammates, Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfred Ndidi who misses the play-off with an injury.

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