Super Eagles training for the must-win clash
By Tunde Sulaiman
So far the Eagles have failed to lift the spirits of millions of Nigerians with their uninspiring play in their first two group games of the African Cup of Nations. The insipid performance has thus put the team in their presence predicament of needing to beat Ethiopia on Tuesday if they are to avoid the ignominy of a first round exit – the first time this has happened to the Eagles in 31 years (Libya’82).
However, despite the indifferent display by Stephen Keshi’s tutored side, I strongly believe that Nigerian football fans can rest easy going into to the must-win clash with the Walyas Antelopes of Ethiopia taking place at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium in Rustenburg.
No I have not visited any ‘babalawo’ to look into his crystal ball to see how the match played out! Rather I believe the Eagles will come good for the simple reason that even though their opponents have everything to gain by upstaging their more illustrious opponents, the Nigerian side not only has better players, but more importantly know what failure will bring upon them.
Yes the Eagles have not quite hit the heights expected of them so far at the tournament, but for late laxities against Burkina Faso and Zambia, they would have been sitting pretty on top of Group C with six points.
In fact but for the woeful decision of the Egyptian match official in the game against the defending champions, Nigeria would have had at least four points and be in a more comfortable position.
So on Tuesday evening the game boils down to which of the sides wants victory most – I feel that Nigeria’s better quality of players should tilt the game the Eagles way, no matter how small. And we all know that in football the margin between joy and heartbreak can be very little.
Following the Antelopes heavy defeat by the Stallions, I also feel that should Nigeria score first the game will be virtually won.
Of course it is not possible to rule out the unthinkable, but I will be very surprised if the Eagles don’t make it to Sunday’s quarter-finals at the end of hostilities Tuesday evening.
HOW THEY STAND IN GROUP C
Position Team Played GF Points
1 Burkina Faso 2 4 4
2 Nigeria 2 0 2
3 Zambia 2 0 2
4 Ethiopia 2 -4 1