Leon Balogun, Ighalo Doubtful as Eagles Dare Lions in Yaounde



By Duro Ikhazuagbe in Yaoundé

After 90 minutes this evening here in Yaoundé, Nigeria will know whether the ticket to the World Cup 2018 in Russia has become a done deal.

Already, hosts, Cameroon and their Indomitable Lions have become dispirited and gutted by the 4-0 defeat they suffered at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo last Friday.

Their know that their Russia 2018 aspiration is over. They have nothing to play for now beyond their pride. Even if they win all their remaining three matches including today’s game with the Super Eagles, the best they will end up with is 11 points. This explains why their Belgium born Coach, Hugo Broos, admitted after the Uyo massacre that it was all over for the reigning African champions.

“There is no pressure anymore tomorrow (Monday). Nigeria have nine points, we have two points,” Broos stressed, insisting further that: “If we (Cameroon) had won the game in Uyo, we would have a chance, but we lost it and I hope everyone will learn from this.”

However, despite that submission by the Cameroon gaffer, Gernot Rohr and his glory seeking Eagles will be the least interested o take the wounded Lions for granted. Cameroon have pride to play for right in from of their partisan home fans. This is why Broos warned Nigeria that honour is what is at stake in this  evening battle of Yaoundé.

“There is only an honour to defend, there is no importance to this. I just hope my players will have the same mentality that I have – that they will fight till the last minute – to beat Nigeria,” observed the coach who led e Cameroonians to the AFCON 2017 title last February in Gabon.

Eagles who arrived Yaoundé at 2pm from Uyo and got chucked into five-star Hilton Hotel, trained later at 6pm at the venue of today’s clash with the Cameroons. All the players were full of optimism to repeat the victory over the Lions this evening.

From the training, it was obvious the handlers of the team were going to introduce some players not used in Uyo to the starting line up to take on the Lions.

Both Leon Balogun and Odion Ighalo who are still nursing the knocks they received during the Uyo battle may not start. There is the possibility of the introduction of either Israel based Anthony Nwakaeme or Kelechi Iheanacho for Ighalo. Rohr is keeping the joker of likely replacement for Balogun to his chest.

Of course, with the form exhibited by FC IfeanyiUbah goalkeeper, Ikechukwu Ezenwa, is is obvious that he is going to be handed the number 1 jersey.There is the likelihood of Chelsea defender Ola Alina making his debut here while Elderson Echiejile keeps his left back starting shirt.

Troost Williams Ekong is primed for same role in the central defence as he did in Uyo keeping the rampaging Lions at bay. Wilfred Ndidi,  Ogenyi Onazi, John Mikel Obi, Victor Moses and Moses Simon and are all sure of starting against the hosts. Eagles’ team doctor is expected to confirm this morning if China based Ighalo will be free from the knock to add to his goal haul in the qualifying round today.

As a result of the comprehensive victory in Uyo,  the Super Eagles are on verge of qualifying for Russia 2018: a win here in Yaounde today will send Nigeria to 12 points hoping that Algeria will beat second placed Zambia who is on four points in the other Group B match on Tuesday.

Group B

Pos Team P W D L GF GA GD Pts
1 Nigeria 3 3 0 0 9 2 7 9
2 Zambia 3 1 1 1 5 4 1 4
3 Cameroon 3 0 2 1 2 6 -4 2
4 Algeria 3 0 1 2 3 7 -4 1

Udofia Pumps Team with $20,000 per Goal

Businessman Aka Udofia has offered the Super Eagles the sum of $20,000 for every goal scored in tonight’s World Cup qualifying cracker against Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions in Yaounde.

The young businessman from Akwa Ibom State made the promise as he briefly greeted players and officials inside the chartered ARIK Bombadier CRJ 1000 aircraft just before take –off at the Ibom International Airport, Uyo.

“I am a very good friend of the NFF President, Mr. Amaju Pinnick, and I am happy that I am here in time to see you guys before take –off for Yaounde.

“I watched the game against the Cameroonians here in Uyo on Friday and I am sure you have the ability to conquer them again in their own territory. I promise to reward you with $20,000 for every goal scored in Yaounde,” Udofia announced to the applause of players and officials.