By Monsurah Olatunji
In the final game of the group stage in Group A, Guinea-Bissau are set to face off against Nigeria, while the hosts Cote d’Ivoire will battle Equatorial Guinea.
Both matches will be played simultaneously as the group is now thrown wide open for a possible three to go through to the next round.
Super Eagles eye a top place finish with a win as they currently sit second in their group with four points, while the Wild Dogs are set to play for pride after two defeats in two matches.
The Super Eagles need either a win or a draw to guarantee their place in the knockout stage, while Guinea-Bissau will need to win by as many as four or more goals to have any chance of preserving their spot at the AFCON.
The two teams have faced each other in the past, with Nigeria typically having the upper hand, as the Super Eagles have defeated the Wild Dogs twice out of three meetings, including two qualifiers for this competition last year.
Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium is set to hold the game that promises to be pulsating and full of emotions, on Monday.
In the other Group A match, group leaders Equatorial Guinea will take on third-place and tournament hosts Ivory Coast at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium on Monday.
Ivory Coast must win this final fixture to avoid a potential exit from the tournament, whereas Juan Micha’s men need a point from Monday’s clash to secure a spot in the first knockout round.
With four points already secured from two games, Equatorial Guinea will at least get a second-placed finish.
Having avoided defeat since losing 4-0 to Tunisia in qualifying, Equatorial Guinea should back themselves to extend their 13-game unbeaten run against the competition’s hosts.
Although, a draw could see the Elephants progress in any capacity even as a best loser, it is not expected to appease a disappointed home support, who left Ebimpe in low spirits after Nigeria’s win.
This will be the third meeting between Equatorial Guinea and Ivory Coast at the AFCON. They are in the same group for the second consecutive AFCON tournament.
Equatorial Guinea will have faced Ivory Coast more times than any other opponent at the tournament. The Ivorians have so far won both of their previous encounters: 3-0 in 2012 (quarter-finals) and 1-0 in 2022 (group stage).
However, a win for either side guarantees their progress to the knockout stages.