Super Eagles Set to Clinch 2024 AFCON Ticket Against Leone Stars

Super Eagles Set to Clinch 2024 AFCON Ticket Against Leone Stars

The Super Eagles of Nigeria will tomorrow at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Stadium in Monrovia, Liberia, take on the Leone Stars of Serria Leone in an attempt to clinch the ticket for the 2024 African Cup of Nations slated for Cote d’Ivoire with a game to spare.

The Nigerian side hit Monrovia this morning from their Eko Hotel camp having had few days of close doors training sessions at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena, in Lagos.

In the first leg played at the Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja, the Jose Peseiro side came from a goal down to beat the Leone Stars, courtesy of Alex Iwobi and Victor Osimhen’s goals.

The 22,000 -capacity arena will witness fireworks from 5pm Nigeria time as the Super Eagles seek to reach the finals of the 34th Africa Cup of Nations, scheduled for Cote d’Ivoire early next year, with a game to spare.

The three-time African champions are expected to fire from all cylinders at the Paynesville, conscious that Guinea Bissau, overtook Nigeria in first place after inflicting a lone goal defeat on group whipping boys, Sao Tome and Principe on Wednesday.

When both sides met in 2020, in another Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match (Cameroon 2021),  the Leone Stars famously came from 4-1 down to draw 4-4 with the Super Eagles at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City, and few days later, held the Eagles to a barren draw at the Siaka Stevens Stadium in Freetown.

Interestingly, former Super Eagles player, Garba Lawal has warned the Nigerian national team players not allow another upset against their opponent.

Speaking on a radio station in Lagos, the onetime Esperance of Tunisia star warned that the attitude to the remaining games in the qualifiers must be positive.

“In football, what matters is the victory. Nobody remembers whether you played good football or not. What matters is the three points on offer,” Lawal said.

“The Super Eagles must not give room for complacency. It’s going to be 50/50 and it’s not going to be an easy game for the team. We must not allow another upset from a supposedly weaker team.

“They (Super Eagles players) have to be organised, that will make the job easy for the coaches because the philosophy and methodology has to be the same.”

However, Nigeria in-form Napoli of Italy striker, Victor Osimhen, has stated that the team will not leave room for complacency against the Leone Stars tomorrow.

“We don’t want obstacles on our ways. We have a game on Sunday to qualify which won’t be easy,” Osimhen remarked.

“But we got the quality to execute it. A new coach came on with new strategies but we have to achieve our collective goals and be objective.

Osimhen noted that the team are well aware of the disconnect with most of the fan base and understands that a win and ultimately qualification to the AFCON is what is expected after failure to qualify for the 2022 search FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

“We want to bring our fans back to our side because we know they are understandably disappointed.

“It was disheartening for us when we couldn’t qualify for the World Cup. “

Osimhen revealed that the players were abused on social media by Nigerian fans following the disappointment of missing the World Cup.

“We had online abuses. Now it’s behind us but the memories still linger. We will do our best to earn their trust,” Osimhen emphasised.

Ademola Lookman has indeed assured the Nigerian football fans of giving his best against Sierra Leone tomorrow as he expressed commitment to ensuring that Nigeria secures their spot in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.

The former RB Leipzig star, who joined Atalanta BC in the summer of 2022, has made an impressive impact, scoring 12 goals in his first 20 Serie A games for the Bergamo-based club.

Although he has faced challenges with fatigue and injury, Lookman remains determined to give his best for the national team.

“My aim is to give my best, like what I always try to do. You know, If I could give my best, there is not much more than to give your best, and work hard. And to keep trying. Try to control what I can control,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Confederation of African Football (CAF) has designated Sudanese referee Mahmood Ali Ismail as the center referee for match between Sierra Leone and the Super Eagles of Nigeria.

Ismail will be joined by his compatriot Mohammed Abdallah Ibrahim as assistant referee one and Djiboutian official Liban Abdourazak Ahmed as assistant referee two.

Mohamed Diraneh Guedi, also from Djibouti, will be the fourth official. Bakary Jammeh from Gambia will oversee the match as the match commissioner, while Kokou Djaoupe from Togo will be the referee assessor.

Nigeria has accumulated nine points from four matches and will secure one of the two qualification spots if they manage to draw against the Leone Stars, who currently sit in third place with five points. Super Eagles need at least a draw against Sierra Leone to safeguard their ticket for the 2023 AFCON.

Related Articles