Twenty-three years after Nigeria’s Dream Team defeated Brazil on their way to winning Africa’s first Olympic football gold at the Atlanta ’96, the three-time African champions will play the Selecao in a friendly in Singapore on Sunday, October 13.
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) announced on Monday night that the Nigeria and Brazil will tango in a much-anticipated friendly encounter at the Singapore National Stadium in Kallang, Singapore
The Nwankwo Kanu-led Nigeria Under-23 team spanked the Selecao in the semi finals at the Athens Stadium in the State of Georgia, USA.
Efforts to match the two teams in a friendly match after that spectacular game came to nought for several years, until the organisers of the 8th All-Africa Games that Nigeria hosted in 2003 flew the Brazilians to Abuja in June of that year. Brazil won 3-0.
There has been no competitive tie between both countries’ senior teams since that memorable Under-23 match in Georgia, and next month’s session will test the character of the African champions who are somewhat building a new team after a rash of retirements and injuries to key players.
That new breed came close to shocking Ukraine in a friendly match in Dnipro a week ago, before bungling a two-goal lead to stalemate at 2-2.
“We are happy to have sealed this encounter with Brazil, the five-time champions of the world. It is not everyday that you get to Brazil, and I think it is very good for our young team.
“The Nigeria Football Federation must also commend Eurodata Sport, our FIFA-licensed Match Agent, for pulling this off. Having said that, the focus now is on getting an African team for the Super Eagles as a second match for the FIFA window in October, ahead of their 2021 AFCON qualifying matches in November,” NFF General Secretary, Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, stressed.
The Super Eagles have two 2021 AFCON qualifying dates in November. After hosting the Squirrels of Benin Republic on 14th November, they will fly to Maseru for a Day Two encounter with the Crocodiles of Lesotho on 19th November.
Meanwhile, barring no injury, Seleção Head Coach Tite is set to hand call-ups to Brazil’s poster boy Neymar who remained at Paris Saint-Germain when the transfer window closed for business, Champions League winner Roberto Firmino and Barcelona loanee Philippe Coutinho.
Explaining why they chose to play Nigeria and Senegal, Coordinator of the Brazilian national team, Juninho Paulista said : ”We chose two of the best African teams because they are high level confrontations and against a school that the Brazilian National Team has had few encounters in recent years.
”It was a wish of the Technical Commission, so we went after these opponents,” he admitted.
Paulista further stressed that the choice of Nigeria meets the proposal established between the CBF summit and the Brazilian National Technical Commission to play against top 50 opponents in the FIFA ranking.