Nigeria are probably still trying to forget their agonising exit from this summer’s Africa Cup of Nations, when they went out at the last gasp in their semi-final.
Riyad Mahrez‘s 95th-minute free kick provided the dramatic winner, ending Nigeria’s hopes after tournament top-scorer Odion Ighalo‘s equaliser from the penalty spot 20 minutes from the end of normal time.
As well as being the precursor to their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign, this first meeting with Ukraine is seen as an important strategic fixture by Nigeria Football Federation organisers.
The federation’s President, Amaju Pinnick, described the trip as a “Grade A international friendly” when it was announced last month, praising it as an opportunity for Nigeria’s young talents to showcase their abilities in Europe.
The future of their manager Gernot Rohr seemed less rosy in the aftermath of that AFCON despair and a 2018 World Cup in which his tactics were criticised as his side crashed out following two defeats in the group stage.
Well-travelled German coach Rohr appears to have kept his job for the time being, although his contract expires next summer.