Fußball-heute.de previews Tuesday’s World Cup Qualifying – Africa clash between Niger and Zambia, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Both looking to make their first-ever appearance on football’s biggest stage, Niger will welcome Zambia to the Stade de Marrakech for a CAF World Cup qualifier in Group E.
The hosts are aiming to challenge for second place in a section containing 2022 World Cup quarter-finalists Morocco, and the same can be said for Zambia, who started their road to North America with a win during round one.
Due to the rejigged format of the CAF qualification process for the 2026 World Cup, Niger opened their eight-game qualification campaign on Saturday in their temporary home of Morocco against Tanzania, however the West African minnows were unable to collect any points from the contest.
Following a goalless first period, the Tanzanians started to upset their hosts and managed to secure a winning strike in the 56th minute, with attacker Charles M’Mombwa of A League side Macarthur scoring past Mahamadou Djibo in Niger’s net, with a heavy deflection leaving the 27-year-old goalkeeper helpless.
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Niger have experienced a rollercoaster of emotions during the current calendar year, which started with Jean-Michel Cavalli’s men reaching the semi-finals of the African Nations Championship for the first time in their history after a resounding 2-0 victory over Ghana in the final eight.
A semi-final meeting with African giants Algeria in the last four proved too much for Niger who lost 5-0, and Le Mena have been defeated in all six of their competitive matches since January, meaning they failed to qualify for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations in the Ivory Coast.
A notable player for Tuesday’s hosts is 21-year-old Abdoul Darankoum who currently plies his trade for Moldovan club Sheriff, with the youngster scoring one goal in 26 appearances for the former Champions League side since moving from the Niger Premier League in August 2021.
After a stellar Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign, Zambia were able to commence their journey to USA, Canada and Mexico with a hard-fought 4-2 success over Congo at Levy Mwanawasa Stadium on Friday evening in Ndola, with a usual suspect getting onto the scoresheet.
With new Leicester City head coach Enzo Maresca preferring the talents of Jamie Vardy, Kelechi Iheanacho and summer signing Tom Cannon, Patson Daka has been restricted to just one appearance in the Championship this term, however the 25-year-old was as sharp as ever to bag a brace against Congo last time out.
Joining the former Red Bull Salzburg poacher in a two-man forward line was ex-Rangers attacker Fashion Sakala, with the Al-Fayha man scoring the ninth goal of his international career on Friday evening to put Zambia top of the Group E standings, although section favourites Morocco are yet to play.
Unlike Tuesday’s hosts, Avram Grant’s side are looking forward to participating in the Africa Cup of Nations in January, with Zambia being placed in a group alongside DR Congo, Tanzania and Morocco, with the latter two also featuring in the Copper Bullets‘ World Cup qualification section.
Niger World Cup Qualifying – Africa form:
Niger form (all competitions):
Zambia World Cup Qualifying – Africa form:
Zambia form (all competitions):
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After a narrow defeat to Tanzania last time out, Niger are not expected to make a raft of changes ahead of round two, meaning Boureima Katakore and Massoudi Salifou should continue at the heart of their backline.
A number of players who started on the bench against Tanzania will be pushing for a start, with Sheriff’s Darankoum and fellow attacker Issa Djibrilla making an impact during cameo appearances on Saturday.
With Zambia searching for a winner in the second period against Congo, centre-back Benson Sakala was brought off to make room for midfielder Clatous Chama, however the 27-year-old should retain his spot alongside Stoppila Sunzu from the start.
Following a remarkable solo goal last time out, Lecce winger Lameck Banda will be looking to provide ample service for the likes of Sakala and Daka from the right flank, with the 22-year-old set for his most-productive campaign in terms of goal contributions.
Niger possible starting lineup:
Djibo; Yakubu, Katakore, Salifou, Alhassane; Diabete, Moussa, Moumouni; Goumey, Amoustapha, Soumana
Zambia possible starting lineup:
Mwansa; Chanda, Sunzu, B Sakala, Chepeshi; Kangwa, Kabwe, E Banda, L Banda; Daka, F Sakala
We say: Niger 0-2 Zambia
Niger did not disgrace themselves against Tanzania last time out, however another home clash against an in-form Zambia side will be a much sterner test.
The Copper Bullets look as if they could cause the majority of nations problems in CAF with the strike partnership of Daka and Sakala, meaning we expect the visitors to take maximum points on Tuesday night.
For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.
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