The Super Eagles of Nigeria are set for a crunch clash against Brazil today at the National Stadium in Singapore.
Coach Gernot Rohr has described Sunday’s friendly as another chance to continue the rebuilding process of his team after the outing at the last Africa Cup of Nations.
Some key players such as Odion Ighalo and Mikel Obi retired from the national team after the Nations Cup.
A tough test is anticipated for the Eagles especially as Brazil will be looking to end a three-match winless streak.
The five-time world champions are currently enduring their longest wait for victory since 2013 and were held by Senegal at the same venue in Singapore on Thursday.
The Selecao have not won since their 3-1 triumph over Peru in July’s final of the Copa America, losing to the same opposition in Los Angeles last month in addition to draws with Colombia and Senegal.
Should they fail to beat Nigeria on Sunday, then it would be their longest winless run since a streak of five successive draws which ended in May 2004.
It is not as though they have been playing weakened teams in these friendlies either; the likes of Neymar, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho all started on Thursday as Brazil failed to beat Senegal, with Famara Diedhiou’s penalty canceling out Firmino’s early opener.
It is expected that the big guns will also be on parade in Sunday’s contest.
The Super Eagles finished third at AFCON 2019, losing in the semi-finals to Algeria, who went on to beat Senegal in the final.
In their last outing, Rohr’s side threw away a two-goal lead to draw with Ukraine but he expects something better this time.
“The game against Brazil will show how much we are progressing after finishing third at the Africa Cup in Egypt. It is a fantastic opportunity for us to learn a few more things that will make us better and stronger for future challenges,” Rohr told journalists in the build-up to Sunday’s game.
“This is an important test game for us, and we are here to learn from the best. We hope for a very good game against Brazil on Sunday. This will help us prepare ourselves for the 2021 AFCON qualifiers against Benin Republic and Lesotho next month,” Rohr added at the pre-match press conference.
“After the 2019 AFCON, two of our top players (Mikel Obi and Odion Ighalo) retired and we have to see how to replace them. We saw a little bit in our friendly against Ukraine last month and hope we can improve on that performance tomorrow (Sunday).
“A good showing against Brazil will help our confidence a great deal.”
On his part, stand-in captain William Troost-Ekong has insisted that though the Super Eagles respect five-time world champions Brazil, they have no fear of Neymar and his teammates.
“Brazil is a top team, probably the best team in the world. But Senegal gave them a good fight on Thursday. We can pick some inspiration from that performance when we play the Brazilians on Sunday.
“It will be tough because they will want to win at least one game against an African team on this tour, but we will also want to take something off them.”
Sunday’s encounter starts at 8 p.m. Singapore time (1 p.m. Nigeria time) and PREMIUM TIMES will bring you live updates.