Super Eagles Play for Pride against Tanzania


An Africa Cup of Nations qualifier match between the Super Eagles of Nigeria and Tanzania ordinarily would have generated a lot of attention among soccer-loving Nigerians but not so as both countries are already out of the biennial competition slated for January 2017 in Gabon. However, the Super Eagles and the Taifa Stars will be playing for pride

With Nigeria needing an outright win against Egypt in Alexandria after the Super Eagles failed to hold on to their 1-0 lead and allowed the Egyptians a last-minute equaliser in the first leg at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium, the Samson Siasia-led team was therefore condemned to win the return leg but failed to inspire and lost to a first half goal, which ensured Nigeria would not hoist her flag in Gabon.

Therefore, today’s encounter at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo, is a formality as Nigeria and Tanzania will have no part to play at the 2017 AFCON, after Egypt nicked the sole ticket from Group B.

Meanwhile, while fans in Nigeria are not losing sleep ahead of today’s game, the Taifa Stars are taking the game seriously and want to make a statement in Nigeria after being held to a goalless draw by Nigeria in the first leg in Dar Es Salaam, insisting they should have won the first leg game after creating plenty of chances and will be in Uyo to prove they are one of Africa’s emerging teams.

The Taifa Stars sit bottom of Group G with just one point and are yet to score a goal in the entire campaign but head coach Charles Mkwasa is confident his troops are up to the challenge.

“Both Tanzania and Nigeria are out of the qualification brackets but we want to win this game. Every coach sets out to win every game and we want to win because it will definitely improve our Fifa ranking,” said Mkwasa in an interview with

In the absence of striker Thomas Ulimwengu who is recovering from an injury, Mkwasa will be looking to Belgium-based Mbwana Samatta who has been enjoying fine form at Genk.

The 23-year-old is the main man in the Taifa Stars and has already started making a name for himself in Europe after moving to Genk, in the winter transfer earlier this year.

Tanzania pack an exciting bunch of players like John Bocco and Mohammed Hussein, with Samatta, the only foreign-based player named by coach Boniface Nkwasa in his attempt to upset the Super Eagles.

As part of his on-the-spot assessment and also an opportunity for the new German Coach to assess his players in a match situation, the Super Eagles took on Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) club, Akwa United in a tune-up game on Wednesday at the Godswill Akpabio Stdium, Uyo in preparation for the Tanzanian match.

Eagles won by 3-0, but Rohr was unhappy as failing light abbreviated proceedings during the s friendly game. The second half of the contest lasted barely 30 minutes as stadium officials at the ‘Nest of Champions’ failed to turn on the floodlights.

The development meant the game had to be ended prematurely, something that did not go down too well with Rohr.

“The absence of the floodlights affected our play in the second half. The players started the second half very well when it was not too dark but it was very hard to play in the dark (as the game wore on).

Rohr opted to start players like Chiedozie Awaziem, Wilfred Ndidi and Victor Osimhem while the ‘big guns’ like John Mikel Obi, Ogenyi Onazi, Ahmed Musa and Odion Ighalo were introduced at the start of the second half.

The trainer added afterwards that he has no preferences and merely wanted to see all his players in action.

“I wanted to see all the players. For the players that started, I didn’t know them too well and that is why I wanted them to play in the first 45 minutes. Two of them continued after the break because we still do not have all the invited 23 players available. There were 20 players on Wednesday but by Thursday, we will have 23 players,” he said.

“The training match against Akwa United will tune up the boys for the game against Tanzania on Saturday (today) as well as give the coach a chance to see the boys in a game situation for the first time,” spokesman of the Super Eagles, Toyin Ibitoye said.

Meanwhile, midfielder, Ogenyi Onazi, who was a second half substitute in the encounter has spoken about his earliest impressions of the new Super Eagles Technical Adviser.

The 23-year-old Trabzonspor man revealed that his earliest impressions of Rohr have been positive. “I have been impressed with our new coach so far and I hope we achieve great success. The game against Akwa United was a good one and it gave the coach opportunity to see us (Super Eagles players) for the first time in a match situation.

“We will try to win on Saturday(today) against Tanzania and hopefully, it sets the tone for a successful World Cup qualifying campaign as we look to go to Russia (for the 2018 Fifa World Cup),” Onazi told

However, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has urged Nigerians to throw their weight behind the new national team head coach, Rohr.

A member of the technical and development committee of the NFF, Paul Bassey, said Rohr would succeed as Nigeria coach and is drumming up support for the 63-year-old trainer.

“A few years ago, a certain barman, Clemens Westerhof, was appointed as Super Eagles coach and the decision to hire him was criticised by many. We know how it ended as Westerhof remains the most successful coach this country has ever had. I don’t think it is right to criticise a man (Rohr) even before he has commenced work.

“I know many Nigerians will want us (NFF) to hire the best coaches like Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson but the truth is that Rohr is the coach we can afford right now. That a coach has failed while coaching other countries does not mean he will fail with Nigeria. The truth is that with the quality of footballers this country is blessed with, any coach who comes here is almost guaranteed 60 percent success. We are appealing to Nigerians to throw their support behind Rohr,” Bassey said.

Rohr will want to start his Super Eagles adventure with a win to make a statement.

Meanwhile, Egypt has already secured qualification to Afcon 2017 from Group G having amassed an impressive 10 points with home and away wins over Tanzania, a home win against the Super Eagles and a priceless draw in Kaduna to ensure a place in Gabon for the first time since 2010.

Chad pulled out of this qualification campaign citing financial constraints in March this year following their 1-0 loss to Tanzania, the latter’s first win in the qualification process thus rendering all their results null and void.

Rohr will want to start his Super Eagles adventure with a win to make a statement.

“It is very important because it is the first match for us before we commence the qualifiers for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. We will face Zambia in the next one month so this game is important to see the state and level of the players and how they react in match situations. The game against Akwa United was interesting because I saw something in our young players. It was also good to see the fans turn out to appreciate the players who won Bronze at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio,” Rohr said.