The West African football powerhouse, who crashed out of the 2022 AFCON in Cameroon in the Round of 16 and recently missed out on featuring at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, are seeded in Pot 1 along with the 12 highest ranked African countries from the latest FIFA rankings released on March 31.
A total of 48 countries, including hosts Ivory Coast, are eligible to feature in the final stage of the qualifiers scheduled to begin in June across the continent.
According to the Confederation of Africa Football, “The 48 teams will be drawn into 12 groups of four teams (Group A to L) with the top two teams from each group qualifying for the tournament to be played in the West African country.
“Kenya and Zimbabwe, who have been suspended by FIFA from all football activities globally, will also be included in the draw despite their temporary bans.
“However, if the suspension is not lifted two weeks before their first matchday of the qualifiers, both associations will be considered as losers and eliminated from the competition.”
Nigeria will avoid Senegal, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia, Cameroon, Algeria, Mali, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Ghana and DR Congo as the other countries are also in Pot 1.
They could however, face the likes of South Africa, Zambia or Cape Verde (Pot 2); Togo, Zimbabwe or Angola (Pot 3); Lesotho, Sudan or the Central African Republic.
Looking ahead of the draw, former Nigeria international, Baldwin Bazuaye, who represented the country at the 1990 AFCON in Algeria, said there’s no reason to be afraid of any opponents the Eagles are drawn against.
“It’s a draw and we all know that one day it will happen. At this stage, we shouldn’t be scared of any team because we are one of the biggest countries in Africa and others will be looking to avoid us in the draw but we need to be focused and respect our opponents irrespective of where they are placed in the FIFA ranking,” Bazuaye told media source.
Another retired goalkeeper Uche Akubuike says he believes the Eagles have all it takes to make it out of any group or teams they’re paired against.
“Recent results are making people question the capability of the Eagles, but I’m confident they will make it out of any group they are placed in,” Akubuike told media source.
The Eagles failed to qualify for the 2012, 2015 and 2017 AFCON tournaments.