BusinessDay

AFCON 2023: Will Super Eagles soar over Leone Stars?

The Nigerian Super Eagles, the nation’s men’s football team is set to take on the Lone Stars of Sierra Leone to kick start their campaign to qualify for the 2023 Nations Cup.

The match billed to kick off by 5 pm local time on Thursday, June 9 at the Moshood Abiola national stadium in Abuja will be the Super Eagles’ first competitive match under new coach Jose Peseiro.

In preparation for the epic encounter, the Nigerian national team went on a playing tour in the USA where the Eagles played two friendly games. The Super Eagles lost 1-2 to Mexico and 0-1 to Ecuador.

However, the Nigerian national football team commenced preparation proper for the battle against their West African brothers on Sunday evening.

Jose Peseiro’s game approach against Mexico and Equador no doubt suggests he prefers attacking football and could adopt 4-4-2 game plan.

Speaking to newsmen recently Peseiro reiterated that he likes to attack.

“I know I have players with quality who learn very quickly. It is different when you train Nigeria than other teams who don’t have qualities like our players. What I know is that they learn quickly.

“I like to attack, I like to play with high pressure, I like to command the game with the ball. I can do it with 5-3-2, 4-4-2, and 3-4-3 as you want but we need time. “It’s not about the model, the main thing is the principle,” Peseiro said.

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However, Tunde Disu, a former national team football coach has come to express that he expects nothing less than total victory over Sierra Leone today.

Similarly, Amadi Job of the Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria (FRCN) expressed confidence that Nigeria will do well.

“I know they will do well, any time they are not popular, they always do well. Super Eagles are down now and are like a wounded lion; they will do well,” he said.

For Morakinyo Abodunrin, the sports editor of the Nation Newspaper the Super Eagles are expected to get back to their winning ways.

According to Abodunrin, “The last time Nigerian Super Eagles won a match was on January 19, 2021 in an AFCON game against Guinea-Bissau.”

He noted that the Super Eagles have not claimed victory in their last five matches, including friendly defeats to Mexico and Ecuador in the United States played recently.

The sports analyst believes strongly that playing in an empty stadium as directed by FIFA following the ugly incidents that befell spectators after the 1-1draw against Ghana in the Qatar World Cup qualifier match that edged the country out of the competition will serve as a morale boost to the Eagles.

“It is a rebuilding era for Nigeria, and the Super Eagles and the coaching staff should make it count,” he stated.

Meanwhile, Jose Peseiro, a new gaffer for the Super Eagles has stated that he believes so much in the players. He expressed his optimism that the team will go as far as winning the next AFCON trophy come 2023.

“I believe in the players because I have confidence in them and in myself also because I can choose a good way with them. Because if I don’t believe that we can win the next AFCON, then I won’t be here,” Peseiro said.

Nigeria is far ahead of Sierra Leone when it comes to head-to-head advantage losing just 2 times in 16 matches.

With 9 wins in Nigeria’s favour and 78 places above their opponents on the FIFA ranking, the Super Eagles are ranked 30th while the Leone Stars are ranked 108 in the world.

However, on a normal day, Nigeria has what it takes to beat Sierra Leone with the likes of Victor Osimhen, Samuel Chukwueze, Moses Simon, Joseph Ayodele-Aribo, Cyriel Dessers, William Ekong, Zaidu Sanusi, among others.

While the Leone Stars have in their arsenal players such as Kwame Quee, Mohamed Kamara, and Osman Kakay among others.

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