The Confederation of African Football (CAF) has announced that Sudanese referee Mahmood Ali Ismail will be the center referee for the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifying match between Sierra Leone and the Super Eagles of Nigeria. The game is scheduled to take place at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Stadium in Monrovia, Liberia, as Sierra Leone currently lacks a CAF-approved standard stadium.
Ismail will be joined by his compatriot Mohammed Abdallah Ibrahim as assistant referee one and Djiboutian official Liban Abdourazak Ahmed as assistant referee two. Mohamed Diraneh Guedi, also from Djibouti, will be the fourth official, while Bakary Jammeh from Gambia will oversee the match as the match commissioner. Kokou Djaoupe from Togo will be the referee assessor.
All 23 invited players have assembled in the Super Eagles camp at the Eko Hotel in Lagos, with Bright Osayi-Samuel being the latest arrival, in preparation for the match. The Super Eagles are currently leading the Group A standings and aim to secure their qualification for the 34th AFCON, set to be held in Cote d’Ivoire early next year, with one game remaining.
Under the leadership of coach Jose Peseiro, the Nigerian team has accumulated nine points from four matches and will secure one of the two qualification spots if they manage to draw against the Leone Stars, who currently sit in third place with five points. However, Guinea-Bissau, in second place with seven points, also have a chance to qualify if they defeat bottom-ranked Sao Tome and Principe today and Sierra Leone fail to overcome Nigeria on Sunday.
The Leone Stars have proven to be formidable opponents for the Super Eagles in recent encounters. In a 2021 AFCON qualifier held in Benin City in November 2020, Sierra Leone remarkably salvaged a 4-4 draw after trailing 4-0. Four days later, in Freetown, they held Nigeria to a goalless draw. In their first encounter of the current series at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja last year, Sierra Leone took an early lead. The Super Eagles retaliated, though, with goals from Alex Iwobi and Victor Osimhen, securing a 2-1 victory.
The upcoming match promises to be an exciting encounter as the Super Eagles aim to secure their spot in the upcoming AFCON, while Sierra Leone will be looking to upset the odds and keep their qualification hopes alive. Will the Nigerian team continue their impressive form or will the Leone Stars cause an upset? Only time will tell.