Super Eagles Head Coach, Stephen Keshi
Super Eagles Head Coach, Stephen Keshi, is unfazed by the prospect of Nigeria being drawn in the same group as either Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire or even defending champions, Zambia, as he expects to face tougher opposition in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) finals.
According to the format of the draws scheduled for October 24 in Durban, South Africa, the Super Eagles were seeded along with Mali, Tunisia and Angola in Pot 2 to leave the prospect of meeting any of the power houses a reality.
"I don't think we need to start distracting ourselves with that right now. Our main task now is to prepare the team well for the Nations Cup which is just three months away. We always expect that we will face the best teams at the Nations Cup. We fear no team.
"Remember all the teams taking part in the Nations Cup next year are strong and worthy to be part of the championship. As much as you'll want to avoid the strongest teams in the early stage of the competition, you won't be able to avoid them later. So we will accept our draws and give our best to go far," observed Keshi whose wards got the ticket to the AFCON 2013 last Saturday in Calabar with a 6-1 (8-3 aggregate) victory over Liberia.
In pot 1, CAF lists hosts South Africa, Zambia, Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire while Algeria, Burkina Faso, Morocco and Niger are in Pot 3. Togo, Cape Verde, Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia in Pot 4 complete the list of all the qualified teams for the battle South African for the most prized football trophy in the continent.
According to CAF, the seeding is based on results from the past three Cup of Nations tournaments in Ghana, Angola and Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, rather than FIFA rankings, and, theoretically, keeps the "big guns" apart.
The Pharaohs of Egypt, who hold the record as the only nation to have won the competition a record seven times, and four-time title holders Cameroun are the biggest absentees who are missing from the competition after similarly failing to qualify for the last edition jointly hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
Cape Verde stopped Cameroun while Central African Republic similarly put paid to the ambition of the Egyptians.
Pot 1: South Africa, Zambia, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire
Pot 2: Mali, Tunisia, Angola, Nigeria
Pot 3: Algeria, Burkina Faso, Morocco, Niger Republic
Pot 4: Togo, Cape Verde, DR Congo, Ethiopia