Nigeria will test how far their developmental program has gone when they face Copa America champions Brazil in an international friendly at the National Stadium in Singapore on Sunday.
The three-time African champions are currently breeding their next Golden Generation with about 90% of the team aged 25 or under and against Brazil, they face a team of world stars and proven performers. On Sunday, coach Tite will likely parade Paris St Germain’s Neymar, Bayern Munich’s Coutinho and Liverpool’s Firmino as the five-time world champions seek to end a poor run of three consecutive matches without a victory. Brazil are currently enduring their longest wait for victory since 2013 with the Selecao having not won since their 3-1 triumph over Peru in July’s Copa America final. The South American champions have since lost to the same Peru in Los Angeles last month in addition to draws with Colombia and Senegal. The Super Eagles will take a lot of confidence from that Senegal draw versus Brazil at this same venue but it would still be a difficult challenge against the world’s third-highest ranked team.
Nigeria have stars of their own with Victor Osimhen tearing the French League down with goals since joining Lille from Sporting Charleroi of Belgium. Alex Iwobi, formerly of Arsenal, is currently a teammate of Brazil’s Richarlison at Everton. And there is Villarreal’s Samuel Chukwueze who is as fast and skilful as left-footed players come. All three were in the squad that helped Gernot Rohr’s side finish third at this summer’s Africa Cup of Nations and all played starring roles as the Super Eagles last month threw away a two-goal lead to draw with Ukraine.
Nigeria however do not always fare well in friendlies with Rohr’s side having only won one of their last eight international friendlies.
Brazil will look to hand Neymar his 101st cap against Nigeria, an incredible haul that would see the former Barcelona star draw level with Claudio Taffarel as the fifth-most capped Selecao player. Against Senegal, coach Tite started a star-studded front four of Firmino, Gabriel Jesus, Coutinho and Neymar but Everton Soares or Richarlison could be given an opportunity for this match. Brazil are however missing the services of Manchester City’s Fernandinho, Juventus’ Douglas Costa and the injured duo of Liverpool’s Alisson Becker and Real Madrid’s Marcelo.
Coach Gernot Rohr will have to make do without some of his regulars after the withdrawals of Peter Etebo, Kenneth Omeruo, Ola Aina and Samuel Kalu. The duo of Shehu Abdullahi and Jamilu Collins only joined the rest of the team on Thursday but they will hope to be given opportunities alongside the likes of Alex Iwobi, Wilfred Ndidi and Emmanuel Bonaventure, the latter of whom scored twice at the Bernabeu against Real Madrid for Club Brugge earlier this month.
Brazil have more star quality than Nigeria and the South Americans would be expected to beat the inexperienced Africans and end their winless run without giving away too much. But the Super Eagles are young and fearless and should cause the Selecao a few problems.