Date Controversy Trails Nigeria, Zambia Clash in Ndola


Duro Ikhazuagbe
Controversy appears to be brewing on when the Super Eagles will play their first game of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers with Zambia as both CAF and FIFA have conflicting dates for the clash against the Chipolopolo in Ndola.

As at 9pm last night, FIFA listed the game to be played on October 3 on its official web page while CAF listed the same game for October 9, six clear days from the date the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has on its schedule for the first match in the Russia 2018 qualifiers.

The Football Association of Zambia (FAZ) gave credence to the date on CAF schedule when it announced yesterday that the Chipolopolo versus Super Eagles game is going to hold in Ndola on October 9.

All attempt to get NFF officials speak on the game proved abortive as both Spokesman of the federation, Ademola Olajire and the Chairman of the Technical Committee, Chris Green did not return calls to their mobile telephones. The kick-off time on CAF site is 2.30pm Zambian time.

Sources in Zambia insisted last night that the new FAZ administration has not been proactive by the choice of this date as it will not allow them to fit in a warm-up game during the week-long FIFA friendly window to prepare for the trip to Cameroon in November in continuation of the World Cup qualifying series.

Nigeria and Zambia last met at the 2013 AFCON in South Africa and it ended in a 1-1 draw in Nelspruit.
It was further gathered that following the dismissal of the petition against the recent presidential elections in Zambia, the 2012 AFCON champions are expected to soon name a permanent coach.
Zesco United coach George Lwandamina, has been in temporary charge of the Chipolopolo.

Meanwhile, Nigeria’s new manager, Gernot Rohr, believes Super Eagles will qualify for the World Cup because his charges are now super “motivated” after penultimate weekend’s victory over Tanzania in dead rubber AFCON 2017 qualifier.

“In our group, every team can go to the World Cup because there are four top teams in the group. However, the most motivated team in the group is our team (Super Eagles). I experienced that motivation last week (against Tanzania). We have big, quality players and I am happy with my first victory in-charge of Nigeria,” stressed the Franco-German coach.

The 63-year-old gaffer explained that one of his earliest impressions of the Super Eagles was a side glaringly short on confidence.

“This team was very low on confidence because they failed to qualify for the 2017 AFCON.
“The players need confidence and the confidence will come when they begin to win games.
“But first, we need a good defence to be stable and to attack better,” he said.

Rohr’s attention is now on Nigeria’s 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign which will begin in October with the trip to Zambia.
Nigeria is listed to battle Zambia, Cameroun and Algeria in Group B of qualifying round.