The Super Eagles of Nigeria have qualified for the AFCON 2023 Round of 16, with their opponents in the next phase of the tournament still to be decided.
Nigeria finished second in Group A behind the surprise team of the group Equatorial Guinea after beating Guinea Bissau 1-0.
Though the Super Eagles finished with seven points – the same as the Nzalang Nacional, their potency in front of goal became their albatross in finishing top of the group.
The Super Eagles won two matches and drew one – against Equatorial Guinea. The 1-0 victory over Ivory Coast gave the Nigerian fans hope of something to cheer, but the 4-0 demolition of the hosts has made mincemeat of the celebrations by the fans.
So, who will the Super Eagles meet in the Round of 16?
Who will the Super Eagles play next?
Nigeria's next-round opponents are rooted in Group C. The group has the defending champions Senegal, Guinea, Cameroon and Gambia.
According to the fixtures, the runner-up in Group (Nigeria) will meet the runner-up in Group C.
The group is still unresolved with one game left, but the Lions of Teranga, with two wins from their first two games, have already qualified.
However, Senegal must avoid defeat in its last game to remain top of the table.
Senegal will square off with the Syli National on Tuesday to decide who finishes atop the table. If Guinea wins, they go top, and Senegal finishes second, setting up a date with the Super Eagles.
If Senegal wins, Guinea will need to wait for the outcome of the Cameroon vs Gambia match.
As it stands, Guinea has the brightest chance of finishing second. If they draw, Guinea will finish second with five points even if the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon beat the Scorpions of Gambia.
The Super Eagles would want to avoid Senegal, as they seem to be the most in-form team in the tournament.
Who will Nigeria meet on Saturday? It will likely be Guinea. However, old rivalries could be rekindled if Cameroon beats Gambia by a wide scoreline and Senegal beats Guinea by at least two goals.
What could be – if Nigeria finished top of Group A
The Super Eagles had a solid chance of finishing atop the table. The Nzalang Nacional made mince meat of any permutations with a resounding 4-0 victory to finish top of Group A.
The winner of Group A will meet the 3rd-placed team from either Group C, D or E.
It means they will play either Guinea or Cameroon from Group C, Angola, Burkina Faso or Algeria from Group D and any of the teams from Group E.
Group E is still the most open group as Mali, South Africa, Namibia, and Tunisia are still in with a shout to make it out of the group.
At this point the Super eagles need experience. We can’t win this tournament with shabby performances like this. A penalty & own goal, qualified 2nd.
Why are they not using Ahmed? Onuachu? & other experienced players? pic.twitter.com/EEub49Jj24
— Capt. J A M i L👨🏾✈️ (SkyDanfoDriver) 🛫 (@CaptJamyl) January 22, 2024
The Round of 16 fixtures
Saturday, Jan. 27
R1: Winners Group D vs 3rd Group B/E/F (Bouaké; 5 p.m.)
R2: Nigeria vs Runners-up Group C (Felix Houphouet Boigny, Abidjan; 8 p.m.)
Sunday, Jan. 28
R3: Equatorial Guinea vs 3rd Group C/D/E (Alassane Ouattara, Abidjan; 5 p.m.)
R4: Runners-up Group B vs Runners-up Group F (San-Pédro; 8 p.m.)
Monday, Jan. 29
R5: Cape Verde vs 3rd Group A/C/D (Felix Houphouet Boigny, Abidjan; 5 p.m.)
R6: Winners Group C vs 3rd Group A/B/F (Yamoussoukro; 8 p.m.)
Tuesday, Jan. 30
R7: Winners Group E vs Runners-up Group D (Korhogo; 5 p.m.)
R8: Winners Group F vs Runners-up Group E (San-Pédro; 8 p.m.)
Interestingly, the Super Eagles and Equatorial Guinea could still clash in the quarter-finals if they make it through.
This article was most recently revised and updated 4 weeks ago