Bookmakers have come out with permutations that could see Nigeria grouped alongside Senegal, South Africa and Tanzania at this year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, as all four countries are in different pots for the draw on April 12.
In contrast with popular belief that Nigeria would be seeded for the ceremony in Cairo, Egypt, considering her current number four ranking in Africa by FIFA and early qualification for the continental soccer showpiece, the Eagles have ended up in Pot 2.
That now puts the Eagles on a possible collision course with any of the six top rated teams from Pot 1, which has hosts, Egypt, holders Cameroon as well as the quartet of Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Tunisia and Senegal.
Also possibilities for a spot alongside the Eagles in the same group is any team from Pot 3, which has Uganda, South Africa, Angola Guinea Bissau, Burundi and Zimbabwe, as well as Pot 4, which comprises Mauritania, Namibia, Benin Republic, Kenya, Madagascar and former Eagles winger, Emmanuel Amuneke-coached Tanzania.
However, among the big teams Nigerian cannot meet in Egypt 2019, as they are all in Pot 2 together with the Eagles, are Morocco and Algeria, with DR Congo, Guinea and Mali completing the roll call.
The top two from each group will go through to the last 16 as well as the four best-performing third-placed teams.
Because the tournament has been moved to the summer, the final will now take place on Friday July 19, which is just a few weeks before the English Premier League traditionally starts.
Clubs will face a similar dilemma to that from last summer’s World Cup – when the final took place on July 15 – should some of their players make it to the latter stages.