Nice-Auxerre preview: Digard ‘never doubted’ Moffi

OGC Nice – AJ Auxerre


– Kick-off: 20:00 GMT




Moffi joined Nice on loan from FC Lorient in the January transfer window, with an option to make the move permanent for €30 million at the end of the season, but he had gone his first three games without a goal before Sunday’s meeting with AS Monaco.


But he looked like he had been playing and scoring for Nice for months after a superlative display in the Derby de la Côte d’Azur, scoring twice before setting Khéphren Thuram up for the third goal in a 3-0 win at the Stade Louis II.


Digard delighted


Head coach Didier Digard, who succeeded Lucien Favre in January and recently secured the job until the end of the campaign, always had faith in the Nigeria striker, who scored 12 in 18 for Lorient before Christmas.


Watch: Highlights of Nice’s 3-0 win at Monaco


“I never doubted him,” said the former Nice midfielder. “The main thing is that he had the support of all of his teammates and coaches. We were aware of the situation, and he could’ve had doubts. But he was able to work very calmly and feel the confidence everyone had in him.”


Moffi will lead the line on Friday, then, with Gaëtan Laborde and Sofiane Diop the most likely to keep him company in the final third in the injury-enforced absence of Arsenal loanee Nicolas Pépé.


Chance for the youngsters


With midfielder Aaron Ramsey (knee) and full-backs Youcef Atal (thigh) and Melvin Bard (calf) struggling, look for youngsters like Youssouf Ndayishimiye and Ayoub Amraoui to start.


While Nice are in seventh, on the cusp of the European places, Auxerre are 20 points back in 16th, only above the relegation zone by virtue of goals scored.


Watch: Highlights of Auxerre’s 1-0 win at Lorient

The 1996 French champions have had a recent bounce, coach Christophe Pélissier switching to a three-man defence in recent back-to-back victories over Olympique Lyonnais and Moffi’s former club, Lorient.


Pélissier: ‘in it till the end’


“We hardly conceded a chance against Lorient, except at the end when Andrei Radu made a superb save,” said Pélissier. “We’ve won eight of a possible 12 points in our last four games and have to keep it up. We know it’s a long road but if we show the same valued we’ll be in it till the end.”


Auxerre are without attacker Nuno Da Costa due to a thigh strain, with Siriki Dembélé set to keep his place behind Matthis Abline. Left-back Théo Pellenard (torn LCL) and midfielder Elisha Owusu (hamstring) are long-term absentees.


Possible teams


Nice: Schmeichel; Lotomba, Todibo, Dante, Amraoui; Boudaoui, Ndayishimiye, Thuram; Laborde, Moffi, Diop


Auxerre: Radu; Raveloson, Jubal, S. Touré; Zedadka, Massengo, B. Touré, Mensah; Dembélé, Perrin; Abline

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