Former Super Eagles coach, Christian Chukwu
By Olawale Ajimotokan
Ex-internationals, Christian Chukwu and Patrick Pascal have described the recently conducted Africa Cup of Nations draw as “easy” and “favourable”.
Nigeria was last Wednesday in Durban pitched in a soft looking Group C along with defending champions, Zambia, Ethiopia and Burkina Faso for the fixtures in Nelspruit and Rustenberg.
Chukwu, the one time captain and coach of the national team, said the Eagles were lucky to have earned a fair draw which should realistically guarantee them a place in the quarter finals.
“It is a fair draw for us. I think we are comfortable but we should not underrate our opponents. I believe that we are going to come out of that zone and advance into the knock out stage,” Chukwu said Sunday night.
Though Zambia are the current cup holders, Chukwu is unfazed as he appeared to regard the Chipolopolo as the easiest of the four seeded teams and was cocksure that they can be dethroned if the Eagles step up their preparation.
The Super Eagles were the better side in the last two meetings with Zambia; at the quarter final at Angola 2010 via a penalty shootout; and later in a friendly match played in November 2011 in Kaduna, which Nigeria won 2-0.
“Zambia dethroned somebody before they became champion, so they can also be beaten if their preparation is shaky. But like I said, with the right programme, we should advance from the group and set our sight on a quarter final slot,” said Chukwu, who is a member of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Technical Committee.
His position was reinforced by Pascal, the one time chairman of Wikki Tourists Football Club of Bauchi. He likened the group as the easiest of the all.
Pascal, who once played for 3SC of Ibadan and Genclerbiligi of Turkey, said that Eagles can beat Burkina Faso and Ethiopia if they are focused and adequately prepared. He also noted that Nigeria will be ready for the big duel against Zambia in Nelspruit on January 29, having seen the Zambian style at the last Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
“Group C is a lightweight group and anyone that understands this game will admit that you cannot ask for a fairer draw. We are happy with this group and my opinion is that Nigeria should qualify from that pool. There are no pushovers in football anymore but this is good for us because the teams in that group will show us respect,” Pascal said.
He advised Nigeria to ensure a thorough preparation by selecting only the best players for the Africa Cup of Nations campaign in January.