Fulham midfielder, Alex Iwobi, has promised that Super Eagles will fight to grab the AFCON 2023 semi final ticket at stake this evening as Nigeria play Angola in the winner-takes-all quarter final fixture inside Stade Félix Houphouët-Boigny in Abidjan.
Iwobi however praised the Palancas Negras of Angola as no push over in the tournament.
“For Angola to get to this stage of the competition is a big achievement,” stressed the former Arsenal player at the prematch press conference yesterday.
He also admitted that the Palancas Negras have lots of creative players who can spell doom for Nigeria like they did at the qualifiers for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
“They have a lot of creative players, but we will fight for a win.
“There have been a lot of surprises (at this AFCON), but the main thing is to remain focused. We can achieve greatness and create history,” observed Iwobi
In nine head-to-head meetings, Nigeria have won three and drew five with the Angolans.
But Super Eagles Head Coach, Jose Peseiro, who engaged in mind games with the Angolans at the prematch conference ahead of the clash, insisted that the game was 50/50 chances for any of the two teams to triumph.
“In my opinion, it’s 50% for each team to win this match,” Peseiro said at the prematch conference in Abidjan yesterday.
Peseiro refused to accept the belief that Super Eagles were the clear favorites for the semi final ticket. “I believe in my team, we believe in our team. This is our second final after we played the first final (vs Cameroon). We want to play the third final and the fourth final,” stressed Peseiro who gave a hint of his game-plan for today. “We start this game 0-0. We want to score goals and not concede a goal.”
He added: “Both teams want to reach the semifinal. It will be a tough match.
“Angola are a good team with no big names. They have done very well to reach the quarterfinal. We hope our team play 100% to beat a good team from Angola.”
The match, which will commence at 5pmCote d’Ivoire time (6pmNigeria time) will be another of the rare occasions that Nigeria and Angola tango on the turf, with few clashes between both nations at senior level over the years.
Nigeria edged Angola to reach the final round of the qualification series for the 1990 FIFA World Cup finals (2-2 in Luanda and 1-0 in Lagos), but the Angolans stepped on Nigeria to make their single appearance at the FIFA World Cup finals, when they won 1-0 in Luanda and held the Eagles 1-1 in Kano to edge the head-to-head contest that was the determining factor for the 2006 FIFA World Cup qualification series.
Nigeria goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali is fit to start Friday’sencounter, though Coach Jose Peseiro has indicated he may not want to risk the safe hands if he is not fit enough for the tie.
The winner of Friday’s encounter will square up with the winner of the clash between Cape Verde’s Blue Sharks and South Africa’s Bafana Bafana in one of the semi final matches, at the Stade de la Paix.
Nigeria v Angola (6pm)
DR Congo v Guinea (9pm)
Mali v Côte d’Ivoire (6pm)
C’Verde v S’Africa (9pm)