WORLD CUP QUALIFIER
- Promises more largesse if Zambia falls on Saturday in Uyo
Okon Bassey in Uyo
Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel on Wednesday redeemed his pledge of $10,000 per goal for the matches against Cameroon to the Super Eagles, while calling on the three-time African champions to go all out for a win against Zambia on Saturday and expect ‘a handsome reward’ from him.
Governor Emmanuel had promised the players the sum of $10,000 for every goal, two days before their clash with the African champions, whom the Eagles walloped 4-0 in Uyo on the first day of September, before earning a 1-1 draw with the Lions in Yaounde three days later.
Yesterday, the football-loving governor and great host of the Super Eagles in this qualifying campaign, said there is more where the money came from, if the team earns a sixth FIFA World Cup appearance by winning tomorrow.
“I know you have the quality to overcome in this important match, but I don’t want you to under-rate your opponents. I love the professionalism and dedication to the cause that you have shown since the beginning of this qualifying campaign. Those efforts have put
Nigeria at the top of the table.
“I want to commend the NFF, your coaches and the support staff for the great job they have all done in support of your efforts to get to this position. You are just one win away from achieving your goal. The Zambians are taking this game as a do-or-die affair, so we need to be totally focused and play like soldiers.”
Responding on behalf of the team, Captain John Mikel Obi thanked the governor and pledged to him and indeed Nigerians everywhere that the Super Eagles will not disappoint on Saturday.
“We very much appreciate the role Your Excellency, the Government and good people of Akwa Ibom State, the NFF and Nigerians from all walks of life have played to get us to this position in this campaign. We know how much this match means and we will go out there and do the job.”
Table-toppers Nigeria will qualify for a sixth FIFA World Cup appearance with the minimum victory on Saturday. The match kicks off at 5pm.
Meanwhile, President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Mr. Amaju Melvin Pinnick, has asked the Super Eagles to be calm but clinical in Saturday’s showdown with the Zambians.
“The tendency is for teams to get uptight and tensed for this kind of match. I have spoken to them and the approach should be to take full control from the beginning and take the chances that come without being too anxious.
“We defeated the African champions, Cameroon, by maintaining focus and with the team imposing its game and taking the chances that came their way. That should be the approach for Saturday.”
Zambia last tasted victory against Nigeria in a competitive football match at senior level 32 years ago.
There have been 18 matches in all, with the Eagles winning seven, Zambia winning five and six draws. But this is only the second FIFA World Cup qualifying match between the two teams, the first won by the Eagles in Ndola last year.
NIGERIA & ZAMBIA AT SENIOR LEVEL
15 July 1973: Zambia 5 Nigeria 1 – Lusaka (AFCON Qualifier)
29 July 1973: Nigeria 3 Zambia 2 – Lagos (AFCON Qualifier)
14 Feb 1976: Zambia 1 Nigeria 3 – Lusaka (Friendly)
10 Mar 1978: Zambia 0 Nigeria 0 – Accra (AFCON)
25 July 1981: Zambia 3 Nigeria 0 – Lusaka (Friendly)
13 Mar 1982: Zambia 3 Nigeria 0 – Benghazi (AFCON)
10 Aug 1985: Nigeria 0 Zambia 0 – Lagos (AFCON Qualifier)
18 Aug 1985: Zambia 1 Nigeria 0 – Lusaka (AFCON Qualifier)
12 Mar 1990: Zambia 0 Nigeria 2 – Annaba (AFCON S-F)
10 Apr 1994: Zambia 1 Nigeria 2 – Tunis (AFCON Final)
15 Dec 1997: Zambia 2 Nigeria 0 – Lusaka (Friendly)
18 Dec 1997: Zambia 0 Nigeria 0 – Kitwe (Friendly)
13 Jan 2001: Nigeria 1 Zambia 0 – Lagos (AFCON Qualifier)
24 Mar 2001: Zambia 1 Nigeria 1 – Chingola (AFCON Qualifier)
6 Jan 2010: Zambia 0 Nigeria 0 – Durban (Friendly)
25 Jan 2010: Zambia 0 Nigeria 0 (4-5 penalties) – Lubango (AFCON)
25 Jan 2013: Nigeria 1 Zambia 1 – Nelspruit (AFCON)
9 Oct 2016: Zambia 1 Nigeria 2 – Ndola (World Cup Qualifier)