The Nigeria Football Federation said on Monday that it does not expect anything less than an outright win by the Super Eagles when they confront the Walya Antelopes of Ethiopia in the final Group C match of the 29th Africa Cup of Nations on Tuesday.
Two draws in as many matches have now rendered Tuesday’s encounter a must-win for Nigeria and the Football Federation, NFF, says there is no excuse for the players and technical crew not to do Nigeria proud.
“This team has received tremendous support from the Government of Nigeria, the football federation and the good and great people of our country. There is nothing the players or the Head Coach and his crew have requested for that we have failed to provide,” Chairman of the NFF Media and Publicity Committee, Emeka Inyama, said.
“After qualifying for this championship, the team has played a number of friendly matches and everything that is needed to spur players and officials on have been provided for them. All that is left now is for the team to go all out and show high level of commitment and patriotic fervour in getting the job done,” he added.
The Football Federation organised top-class friendly matches for the Super Eagles in the run-up to the nations cup, with the team playing against Venezuela in the United States of America, Catalonia in Barcelona and Cape Verde (one of the first teams to reach the quarter finals here) in Portugal.
They also played against Dutch club, FC Rotterdam, and Portuguese club, Farense, during a 20-day final training camp in Faro, Portugal.
Before the kick-off of the championship and despite limited finances, the NFF ensured payment of salaries of all members of the technical crew till the end of this month.
Chairman of the NFF Technical Committee, Chris Green, admitted that there is no excuse for the team not to sweat hard and work like-never-before for the nation’s honour on Tuesday.
“There is no reason whatsoever for the team to fail. The NFF has done its own part, done virtually everything required of the Federation to prepare a team for a competition and motivate that team.
“The draws against Burkina Faso and Zambia were uncalled for, but those matches are behind us and we have a huge opportunity to put things right against the Ethiopians,” he said.
The Super Eagles have savoured the elegant environment of their Hunters’ Rest abode since arriving in Rustenburg on Sunday afternoon, ahead of the testy duel with the fast-paced, tireless Antelopes.
“We have to be very careful against the Ethiopians. They run hard and forever and do the short-passing game brilliantly. But with the personnel that we have here, we should be able to contain them and get the goals we need to reach the quarter finals,” Mr. Green said.
Meanwhile, team captain, Joseph Yobo, has recovered from the injury he picked up in the first match against Burkina Faso and could come into the fray, with youngster, Kenneth Omeruo, sure to fill in at right back, occupied by midfielder, Ogenyi Onazi, against the Cup holders on Friday.
NFF General Secretary, Musa Amadu, said on Monday that “the Super Eagles should just go into Tuesday’s game and show why they are super. Nigerians have lost patience. We have had enough of draws, and it is time to start winning.”
Cup holders Zambia take on Burkina Faso’s Stallions at Nelspruit’s Mbombela Stadium simultaneously on Tuesday.
Should the Super Eagles qualify, depending on results of Tuesday’s matches, they will either remain in Rustenburg or return to Mbombela for Sunday’s quarter finals.
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