Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea go head to head at the Limbe Omnisport Stadium on Thursday for a place in the knockout stages of the Africa Cup of Nations.
With both sides separated by just one point in Group E of the tournament, this game has all the makings of a proper contest as a win will see either side progress to the knockout stages.
Sierra Leone kept their hopes of making it to the round of 16 of the Africa Cup of Nations alive when they came from behind twice to snatch a 2-2 draw against Ivory Coast last Sunday.
After Sebastien Haller scored to hand Ivory Coast a half-time advantage, 21-year-old Musa Noah Kamara restored parity in the 55th minute, and after Nicolas Pepe put the Elephants ahead five minutes later, substitute Alhaji Kamara levelled matters for the second time in the game in the third minute of injury time.
Prior to that, John Keister’s men got their AFCON campaign off to a somewhat impressive start as they played out a goalless draw against reigning champions Algeria in last Tuesday’s group opener.
With two points from their opening two games, Sierra Leone are currently third in Group E, one point behind Thursday’s opponent and two behind leaders Ivory Coast.
While the Leone Stars need all three points to progress to the knockout stages, they have managed just one win from their last 10 games in all competitions, with a 1-0 win over Benin back in June 2021 being the only exception.
Equatorial Guinea, on the other hand, grabbed one of the shock results of the tournament as they stunned Algeria to a 1-0 victory when the sides met last Sunday.
Despite being pushed back for most of the game and seeing just 31% of the ball possession, Esteban Orozco came up trumps for the National Thunder as he grabbed the winner with 20 minutes left on the clock.
This followed a 1-0 loss against Ivory Coast in their group curtain-raiser on January 12, when Max Gradel grabbed the only goal of the game inside the opening five minutes.
Next up for Equatorial Guinea is an opposing side who they have failed to defeat in each of the last three meetings between the sides since 2008, losing twice and claiming one draw in that time.
Sierra Leone punched above their weight last time out when they forced a share of the spoils against Ivory Coast and we expect Keister to name a similar XI following their fine display.
However, Alhaji Kamara, who turns out for Danish outfit Randers, staked his claim for a starting role after coming off the bench to score the equaliser in the aforementioned game.
Should the 27-year-old get rewarded with a place in the XI, he should team up with Musa Noah Kamara at the attacking end of the pitch.
Like Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea head into Thursday’s game with a clean bill of health and no suspension concerns, meaning manager Juan Micha has the luxury of a full-strength squad at his disposal.
Oscar Siafa was hooked off at half time against Algeria last time out after failing to make his mark in the game and the 24-year-old could drop to the substitutes’ bench.
Sierra Leone possible starting lineup:
Kamara; Wright, Caulker, Bangura, Kakay; J Kamara, Quee, Turay, Bundu; K Kamara, A Kamara
Equatorial Guinea possible starting lineup:
Mbara; Akapo, Coco, Obiang, Ndong; Salvador, Ganet, Machin, Buyla; Nlavo, Nsue