• Wednesday, May 29, 2024
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Eagles in must-win AFCON qualifier against Sudan

Reigning African champions, Super Eagles of Nigeria, will this Saturday battle Sudan in a must-win game in the first leg of the African Cup of Nations qualifiers at the Municipal Stadium in Khartoum, Sudan.

The Eagles are aiming to get all three points to rekindle the hopes of making the 2015 African Nations Cup tournament holding in Morocco.

The Eagles, who have been preparing hard for the crucial cracker, will determine their chances of defending the title as African champions.

Nigeria is currently third on the group log following its 2-3 home loss to the Republic of the Congo before getting a 0-0 draw against Bafana Bafana in South Africa.

Stephen Keshi, Super Eagles coach, has come under serious criticism following his side’s poor performance against Congo DR and South Africa.

It is a dangerous situation for the reigning African champion, but it then means that they will have to win their two matches against Sudan to boost their chances of making it to Morocco.

Although, Sudan is seen as minnows and sit bottom in Group A, having lost to Congo and South Africa, one will assume that it’s a walkover for Nigeria, but Sudan in a bid to make it difficult for Nigeria, have decided to take Eagles to the artificial turf, a pitch Eagles are not used to playing on.

The game earlier slated for Omdurman will now see the African champions face their hosts on an artificial turf as they hope to relaunch their bid to qualify for the 2015 AFCON.

Super-Eagles

Elderson Echiejile, Eagles left back, is confident Nigeria will cope with the harsh weather and playing on an artificial pitch in Sudan on Saturday.

“Personally, I prefer playing on a natural grass pitch, but we just have to adjust, be smarter and work on our timing when we play on astro turf and we will be okay.

“And as for the weather, we are first and foremost Nigerians and born in Africa and so we should also be able to cope on the day,” said Elderson, who will be visiting Sudan for the first time.

“We are going for the maximum points against Sudan so as to be better placed on the table especially as the last two qualifying games, against Congo and South Africa, will not be easy.

“We are equally aware that Sudan will not just surrender to us because we are Nigeria. They will want a famous win, but we are training hard, team spirit is very high and with the support of other Nigerians, we will be victorious.”

Also, Ex-Nigeria international Taribo West has warned the Super Eagles to expect a hostile reception from Sudan when they clash on Saturday.

He said the African champions should expect a lot of distractions from their hosts, but they must be focused and concentrate on the job on the pitch.

“Eagles must respect Sudan and not take them for granted. They should expect the hosts to be hostile to them, they will do everything to intimidate them in all aspects in order to see that the Eagles do not win.”

The former AC Milan stopper believes Nigeria can get the three points in Sudan.

“Eagles must stay back and use counter attacks to get the goals. I was there the last time we beat Sudan 4-0 and I see us winning this game also,” Taribo said on a radio interview in Lagos.

Another Ex-international, Garba Lawal, has warned the technical crew of the Super Eagles against any lapses which could cost the national team qualification for the 2015 African Nations Cup.

Lawal added that Nigeria’s slip in the last two qualifiers against Congo and South Africa must have helped Stephen Keshi in identifying his deficiencies and the urgent need to improve the team.

“In football you never can tell, Congo shocked us. I believe we have learnt from the Congo game. I think the coach now knows what to do in the remaining games we have to play,” Lawal told Footballlive.com

Nigeria won 4-0 in Sudan in 2001 in a 2002 World Cup qualifier.

The Super Eagles will immediately after the game this weekend travel to back to Abuja for the return leg of the qualifiers on Wednesday 15th October.

Time is running out, and with just four matches left in the qualifying series, the African champions are in danger of not making it to Morocco.

The draw left Nigeria with just one point in third place behind Congo, who has six points, South Africa, four points in first and second positions respectively.

ANTHONY NLEBEM