BATTLE OF UYO
Super Eagles countdown to Saturdayâ€™s 2018 World Cup qualifier against Zambiaâ€™s Chipolopolo began last night with 15 players arriving the teamâ€™s camp at the Leâ€™Meridien Ibom Hotel and Resort in Uyo.
Nine players led by skipper John Mikel Obi joined Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr, on the flight from Abuja to Uyo to meet the six early birds that included Hapoel Beer Sheva duo of Anthony Nwakaeme and John Ogu.
Home-based Plateau United safe hands, Dele Ajiboye, Elderson Echiejile and Oghenekaro Etebor were the other players who received the contingent from Abuja.
Super Eagles Media Officer, Toyin Ibitoye confirmed to THISDAY last night that those expected to hit camp Tuesday for a full house include; Arsenal forward, Alex Iwobi, Victor Moses of Chelsea, Ola Aina (Hull), Uche Agbo (Standard Liege, Belgium), Chidozie Awaziem (Nantes, France) Ogenyi Onazi (Trabzonspor, Turkey) and Moses Simon (KA Genk, Belgium).
Ibitoye also hinted that formal training is not likely to start until in the evening as the Franco-German coach needs the full complement of his wards to begin plotting how to seal the passage to Russia with victory at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium on October 7.
â€œWe are not going to train in the morning. Those that arrived last night will only do normal light warm up to ease off jet-lag. Full training will hold in the evening training,â€ stressed the teamâ€™s media officer who also arrived Uyo yesterday.
Meanwhile, Super Eagles Assistant Coach, Salisu Yusuf, is unfazed by threats from the Zambians to put spanners in Nigeriaâ€™s smooth drive to grabbing the lone Group B ticket to Russia.
Salisu admits he knows the match will be a very tough one but the Super Eagles are clearly up to the task of carrying the day.
“We want to win but it’s going to be a very difficult match for the Eagles but I am very confident we will win.
“It’s going to be a tough game because the Zambians had fantastic results coming into this game as they beat Algeria back-to-back. Their confidence level is definitely very high now.
“The game is a big motivation for them (Zambia) because they know what a win means and they are going to come out with everything they have got because they know this is like a final for them.
“The Super Eagles are well motivated because everybody wants to play at the World Cup. We need to work very hard to beat them and I am optimistic and confident we can do it,” Salisu stressed with confidence.
The Zambians who are trailing Nigeria with three points began final preparations for the showdown in Uyo on Saturday with serious training at the Marcel Dessaily Sports Complex in East Legon, Accra under the watchful eyes of coach Wedson Nyirenda and his assistants.
Nigeria is leading the Group B on ten points with Zambia in second spot with seven points. Both Algeria and Cameroon have lost out of contention for the qualification to Russia 2018. A win on Saturday by Eagles will hand Nigeria the ticket. Nigeriaâ€™s last game in the qualifier is away to Algeria while the Zambians will be home to Cameroon in Lusaka.