Nigeria plan to bombard Benin in Kano Saturday as they try to avoid a second humiliating qualifying exit from the African Nations Championship (CHAN).
Benin caused a first leg shock in the final round eliminator for the 2018 tournament in Kenya with a 1-0 home win thanks to late goal by captain Seibou Mama off a penalty.
Nigeria coach Salisu Yusuf has reportedly reacted to the Cotonou debacle by opting for a two-prong strike force of Rabiu Ali and Kingsley Eduwo in the return match.
Niger stunned Nigeria in a 2011 CHAN qualifier, winning 2-0 at home and drawing 0-0 away to cause the biggest shock in the history of the competition.
“We have nothing to lose and everything to gain,” said Benin coach Oumar Tchomogo. “That said, I was disappointed we did not win the first leg more convincingly.”
Algeria are another favoured team in trouble having lost 2-1 at home against Libya despite taking a 31-second lead through Oussama Darfalou.
The Libyans quickly levelled and won the match through an early second-half goal from Muaid Ellafi, a consistent scorer this year in the CAF Champions League.
Post Moamer Kadhafi-era violence means Libya cannot host the return match, which will be played in Tunisian Mediterranean city Sfax.
Libya failed to reach the last Nations Championship, hosted by Rwanda, but were shock winners of the 2014 tournament after edging Ghana in a penalty shootout.
Twice runners-up Ghana should reach the finals for the fourth time in five attempts by overcoming Burkina Faso in Kumasi, home of famed club Asante Kotoko.
Ghana led twice in the first leg only for Iliase Sawadogo to snatch a 2-2 draw five minutes from time.
The Ivory Coast trail Niger 2-1 ahead of the second leg on an artificial pitch at Stade Robert Champroux in Abidjan.
Halidou Garba gave the Nigeriens victory late in the first match as they hunt another prized scalp having previously dumped Nigeria.
Defending champions the Democratic Republic of Congo host Congo Brazzaville in Kinshasa after a goalless draw between the central African neighbours last weekend.
DR Congo have several survivors from the team that outplayed Mali 3-0 in the 2016 final, including goalkeeper Ley Matampi and striker Meschak Elia.
Having surrendered a two-goal lead to be held 2-2 in East London, severely depleted South Africa appear doomed to lose against Zambia in Ndola.
The South African Premiership kicks off this weekend and most clubs have refused to release players, saying the qualifiers are not being staged within a FIFA international window.
Egypt are in a similarly difficult situation away to Morocco having drawn the first leg 1-1 without any stars from unco-operative leading clubs Al Ahly and Zamalek.
CHAN matches are confined to footballers registered with clubs in their country of birth, but matches have full international status and count toward the monthly FIFA rankings.
African football body CAF introduced the competition in 2008 amid concerns that Europe-based professionals were dominating national squads, depriving locals of international exposure.