Nigeria have the chance to meet expectations and reach the final of the Africa Cup of Nations when they face Algeria in Cairo on Sunday. The Super Eagles have reached the last four of this competition seven times since 2000. Given that pedigree, it is perhaps surprising that the bookies have Algeria as favourites for this game. But Algeria have been in good form since former player Djamel Belmadi took over as their manager last November. Since then, the Desert Foxes have not lost in 11 games in all competitions.
Nigeria reached this stage of the competition by beating South Africa 2-1 in the semi-final, while Algeria overcame Ivory Coast on penalties after a 1-1 draw. Algeria had won all their games in the tournament up to that point. Nigeria have won four out of five games in this Africa Cup of Nations, with their only defeat coming against Madagascar, who beat them 2-0 in the group stage.
Algeria vs Nigeria Prediction: Algeria 1-1 Nigeria
Our prediction for this game is that it will end in a 1-1 draw with Algeria winning on penalties. While Nigeria have an impressive pedigree in the Africa Cup of Nations, and have a good record in this particular tournament, their defeat to Madagascar shows that the Super Eagles have some frailties that Algeria can exploit. For their part, Algeria have been in pretty imperious form in this tournament, and didn’t concede a goal in their first four games. That means that things will be tight and tense, and expect the North Africans to edge it in a shootout.
Our recommended tip: Either on penalties
Our featured tip for this game comes from Paddy Power, who are offering odds of 7/2 on either team winning the game on penalties. This fits with our prediction of the game ending 1-1 and Algeria triumphing on penalties, but also gives you a great deal of freedom when it comes the final scoreline, and to which team will prevail in the end. The odds also offer you some reasonable value. There are two strong sides with good defences contesting this game, and it is likely to be nip and tuck right up until the end.
Nigeria have a very good recent record against Algeria, having won seven of the last nine games they have played against the Desert Foxes. It was the Algerians who came out on top the last time the two sides clashed, however. That game was back November 2017, when the teams met in a World Cup qualifier. Algeria won 3-0, ending a 27-year barren spell without a win over the Super Eagles. The last time the teams met in the Africa Cup of Nations was in 2010, in the third place play-off, which was won 1-0 by Nigeria.
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Players to watch: Adam Ounas & Wilfred Ndidi
Napoli midfielder Adam Ounas scored twice and picked up an assist in the 3-0 victory over Tanzania in the group stages. He also scored in the round of 16 victory over Guinea, so has been in some good form in this tournament. The player managed to score just three goals all season for Napoli in Serie A in 2018/19. He has already matched that total in this tournament and will want to score more this Sunday.
Nigeria have reached this stage of the tournament without ever really looking entirely fluent, and that has been in part due to the resilience of their defensive unit, which includes Leicester City midfielder Wilfred Ndidi. Ndidi embodies the kind of steely resilience that this Super Eagles team has shown so far. Although not the most dynamic going forward, it is Ndidi who will play a vital role in shutting down the likes of Ounas and Riyad Mahrez on Sunday.