The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) made it clear on Monday that it does not expect anything less than an outright win by the Nigerian Super Eagles when they face the Walya Antelopes of Ethiopia in the final Group C match of the 29th Africa Cup of Nations on Tuesday.
Draws in two games so far have now rendered Tuesday’s encounter a must-win for Nigeria and the NFF says there is no excuse for the players and technical crew not to do Nigeria proud at the tournament.
Chairman of the NFF Media and Publicity Committee, Chief Emeka Inyama, said: “This team has received tremendous support from the Government of Nigeria, the football federation and the good and passionate 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."
“After qualifying for this championship, the team has played a number of friendly matches and everything that is needed to motivate players and officials have been provided for them. All that is left now is for the team to go all out and show a high level of commitment and patriotic fervor in getting the job done.”
The NFF organized top-class friendly matches for the Super Eagles in the run-up to this tournament, 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 team 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 financial power, 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, Barrister Chris Green, also agreed that there is no excuse for the team not to work hard and do like-never-before to give back lost honor to Nigeria on Tuesday.
“There is no reason whatsoever for the team to fail. The NFF has done its part, done almost everything required of the federation to train a team for this 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.”
The Super Eagles have savored the beautiful environment of their Hunters’ Rest home since arriving in Rustenburg on Sunday afternoon, ahead of the testy duel with the fast-paced, tireless Antelopes of Ethiopia.
But Barrister Green says: “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.”
Skipper Joseph Yobo has recovered from injury he sustained in the first game against Burkina Faso and could come into the fray on Tuesday, with youngster Kenneth Omeruo sure to fill in at right back, earlier occupied by midfielder Ogenyi Onazi against the Zambians last Friday.
NFF General Secretary, Barrister Musa Amadu said on Monday: “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 will take on Burkina Faso’s Etalons at Nelspruit’s Mbombela Stadium simultaneously on Tuesday. Depending on results of Tuesday’s matches, the Super Eagles will either stay in Rustenburg on their way home or return to Mbombela for Sunday’s quarter finals.