Libya vs. Nigeria: What to expect

Odion Ighalo in action for Nigeria Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

Libya and Nigeria play each other for a second time in three days, the reverse fixture in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations double-header qualifier, at the Stade Taieb Mhiri, Sfax, Tunisia on Tuesday.

Ahead of the encounter, which will either consolidate or revive qualification hopes for both teams, KweséESPN lists three things to expect from the game on Tuesday.

Key players missing for both teams: Injury and suspensions will deny both Nigeria and Libya the availability of key players, a blow for both.

Abdullahi Shehu continues his injury battles this season, the latest setback being a thigh muscle injury sustained inside the opening 20 minutes against Libya at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium on Saturday.

The Bursaspor player, who has being a consistent and important member of the Super Eagles team since his debut three years ago, sits out a second game in three matches in the qualifying campaign due to recurring injuries.

Ola Aina, who came in for Shehu on Saturday, is expected to earn his second international start for Nigeria barring any last-minute unforeseen circumstances, as he slots in at right-back.

For their part, Libya are expected to be without the experienced duo of Muhammad Nashnoush and left-back Ahmed Al-Maghasi after both players received their second bookings of the qualifiers in Uyo.

Despite conceding four goals, Nashnoush, 30, who doubles as captain of his side, will be a big miss for the Mediterranean Knights, and should be replaced in goal by Ahmed Azzaqeh.

Super Eagles gun for hat-trick of wins: Nigeria's quest to qualify for Cameroon will receive a massive boost if the Super Eagles earn a third successive win, only the second time it would happen during Gernot Rohr's managerial career with the West Africans.

The team have bounced back from their opening home game upset against South Africa, carrying on their post-World Cup momentum to earn consecutive wins against Seychelles and Libya which moves them into second in Group E.

A third straight qualification victory - and the second on the road - would take Nigeria's points tally to nine, and open a five-point gap ahead of the third-place North Africans.

The likely implication of the above scenario is that Nigeria will require just one more victory - even if it means settling for second-place - in their final two games against South Africa and Seychelles to lock down one of the 24 available tickets.

Libya to play the game of their lives to save AFCON ticket: If anyone expects Libya to go down without putting up a robust challenge in Tunisia, then they should have a rethink.

Despite the game technically being a home tie for the Mediterranean Knights, civil unrest in Libya has forced the Confederation of Africa Football to move the fixture to Sfax, a situation which means both teams are playing on a neutral ground.

To make issues a little bit more uncomfortable for Libya, they play their first game at the Stade Taieb Mhiri after previously hosting qualification matches at the Petro Sport Stadium, Cairo.

Despite sitting as group leaders at the start of matchday three on four points, a 4-0 defeat in Nigeria means the Libyans have dropped two spots below their rivals, and will severely dent their hopes of an AFCON return if they fail to win on Tuesday.

With Nigeria facing a daunting away trip to South Africa in November, Libya could further extend their advantage over the Super Eagles with a victory at whipping boys Seychelles.

However, they'll surely need to play the game of their lives on Tuesday to boost their qualification hopes.