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Is AFCON qualifier postponement good news for Nigeria?

On Thursday, the Confederation of African Football approved a proposal by Amaju Pinnick, President of the Nigerian Football Federation, to postpone March's Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers involving the continent's five World Cup representatives.

Among the fixtures to be rescheduled are Nigeria's away game in the Seychelles, and Senegal's visit to Madagascar, while Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco will all also have their matches pushed back.

In this feature, we examine whether the rescheduling suits Nigeria, who will surely be desperate not to miss out on a third consecutive edition of the continental showpiece.

Nigeria can now schedule top-level friendlies

A match against the Seychelles - one of African football's genuine minnows - is hardly a test for the Super Eagles, while precisely what this team needs now, is the chance to go toe to toe with some of the world's tougher sides.

By the time March rolls around, Nigeria will already know the identities of their three group-stage opponents, and that international window offers Gernot Rohr the opportunity to test his side against a country who may have a similar level and playing style to their World Cup foe.

Unsurprisingly, Nigeria are unlikely to come up against a side with too many familiarities to the Seychelles this summer!

This decision by CAF should be applauded as it favours the continent's World Cup representatives, allowing them to make the most of that international break to prepare for the challenges to come, rather than the distraction of a qualifier.

Might Nigeria suffer a post-World Cup hangover?

One reason why the Super Eagles may prefer to play the Seychelles in March rather than after the World Cup, is that they're more likely to approach the fixture in form, and less likely to be tackling the qualifiers while dealing with a post-tournament hangover.

Nigeria have occasionally struggled to settle in the aftermath of a World Cup, a tournament which provides an ideal opportunity for senior players - notably Uche Okechukwu and Nwankwo Kanu in the past - to end their international careers on a high.

This is unlikely to happen for the current team considering the age of the squad and the impending Nations Cup in 2019, but will Rohr still be at the helm beyond Russia?

While the German coach has enjoyed great success to date, Nigeria coaches have regularly left their post in a World Cup year, with Lars Lagerback, Bora Milutinovic and Clemens Westerhof all departing in the aftermath of the tournament.

One shock defeat, or an untimely group-stage exit, and suddenly Rohr risks undermining much of his good work from the last 18 months.

Could that then have a knock-on effect for Nigeria's Nations Cup hopes?

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