Niger will be seeking their first win in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers when they clash with Uganda at the St Mary’s Stadium on Wednesday.
Kick-off is at 3pm CAT (SA, GMT+2)
The Menas kicked off their qualifying campaign with a 1-1 draw against Tanzania in Cotonou on Saturday when Daniel Sosah (26′) cancelled out George Mpole’s first-minute opener for the Taifa Stars.
Jean-Michel Cavalli’s side will look to challenge Algeria for top spot in their group and are well acquainted with the Fennec Foxes, having also gone up against them in the 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
The West Africans have only qualified for the biennial tournament on two occasions, in 2012 and 2013, although their participation ended at the group stages.
They drew 1-1 with Mozambique before losing 2-1 to Libya during the previous international break and are aiming to snap a three-match winless streak.
Meanwhile, the Cranes are seeking their first points in the group after being beaten 2-0 by the Algerians on matchday 1 in Algiers.
Milutin Sredojevic’s team warmed up for the Afcon qualifiers with a string of friendlies against non-African opposition in 2022, which started off well following a 1-1 draw with Iceland and a 3-2 win over Moldova.
However, they failed to win their next four encounters, losing to Iraq (1-0), Bahrain (3-1), Uzbekistan (4-2) and drawing 1-1 with Tajikistan.
The East Africans missed out on the continental showpiece in Cameroon earlier this year, having appeared at the prior two editions in Gabon (2017) and Egypt (2019).
Sredojevic acknowledges Uganda have a battle on their hands to progress from the group, but insists they won’t shy away from the challenge.
“It seems like we are having six Africa Cup of Nations finals, only with that approach that every match as it comes is the biggest attention to detail,” the Serbian tactician said.
“Taking care of things off the field and on the field we shall succeed to garner enough points to take us back to the Africa Cup of Nations.”
Niger lead the head-to-head count 3-2 and are hoping to make it four wins in a row, with Uganda last coming out on top in a 2010 World Cup qualifier when they won 1-0 on 31 May 2008.