After missing out of the last two editions of the Africa Cup of Nations, former national team Captain, Segun Odegbami, is optimistic that Nigeria would hoist her flag at the biennial competition slated for Cameroon in two years time.
â€œIt is abnormal and totally unacceptable that one of the richest countries in terms of natural talent in football, a country with our resources – both natural and human, a country with our size in population, a country with deep rich history in football should not be at any Africa Cup of Nations.
â€œIt is a totally unacceptable thing, so we should all cover our faces in shame that for the past two editions of AFCON, Nigeria was not there. We have absolutely no excuseâ€, Odegbami said.
The 1980 Africa Cup of Nations winner is of the opinion that Saturdayâ€™s game is an opportunity to showcase ourselves to the world with our brand of football.
â€œThis opportunity that comes up on Saturday is another time for us to remember who we really are. South Africa cannot stop us. No country in Africa should be able to stop us from going to the Nations Cup, particularly now that we have more countries participating, unlike when only eight countries were participating.
We have developed a lot. We have the largest expatriate of players playing in Europe from Africa.
â€œI see this as a time of recollection. A time of regrouping, a time of rebuilding to see what Gernot Rohr had put together as a national team, which has been encouraging since he became the Super Eagles coach. We will all be witnesses to the march towards the Africa Cup of Nations in 2019,â€ the former IICC Shooting Stars of Ibadan winger noted.
Against the backdrop in some sections of the sporting press insisting that the AFCON has lost its glamour compare to what it was in the 1970s up to the 1990â€™s, the â€œMathematicalâ€ as Odegbami was known during his active days, said the competition has not changed.
â€œThe AFCON has not changed. There is no difference. It remains the biggest competition among countries in Africa. It always holds the same level of glamour, colour, passion and the determination to win. The only difference is that the number of teams has been increased, which in a way has reduced the competitiveness in terms of qualification.
â€œBeyond that it has become even more passionate with a bigger followership and more rewards coming from it. No doubt itâ€™s now a bigger championship. Super Eagles will host the Bafana Bafana this Saturday at the Godwill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo.