By Albert Akota
Confidence is high in the camp of the Super Eagles as already eliminated Pirates of Seychelles tackle the three –time African champions at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba in what kicks off a true football feast in the Delta State capital on Friday.
Tomorrow’s session is in fulfilment of the final day fixtures of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying series.
Group leaders Nigeria made sure of a slot at African football’s biggest house party far back in November 2018 after a 1-1 draw with South Africa in Johannesburg, but there is word in the camp that the Nigerian stars are looking to rack up a high –score win for bragging rights.
Libya’s Mediterranean Knights, who are involved in the other match of the group against South Africa in Tunisia, incinerated the Pirates 8-1 right in Mahé Island in one of the group matches. That remains the highest –score win of the entire qualifying series.
In Mahé Island on 8th September 2018, goals by Ahmed Musa (a rocket from his weaker left foot), defender Chidozie Awaziem and Odion Ighalo sealed a 3-0 win and kept the Eagles in the hunt for a ticket to the 2019 AFCON. Wins over Libya home and away and the draw in South Africa took Nigeria to the finals.
On Friday, Technical Adviser Gernot Rohr will unleash his best legs, as a high –score win would put the Eagles in good and great mood for Tuesday’s prestige international friendly against seven –time African champions Egypt at the same venue.
Twenty –four hours before that encounter, the Nigeria U23 squad will seek to overturn a 0-2 first leg loss to their Libyan counterparts in a 2019 Africa U23 Cup of Nations qualifying first round fixture, also at the Stephen Keshi Stadium.
Stand –in skipper Ahmed Musa, who has led the Eagles brilliantly during this qualifying series?
“Yes, we have qualified already, but there is something called pride. And also, we need to be in the mood for the match against Egypt, and again take this as part of the preparation for the Cup of Nations.
The Cup of Nations is less than three months away so our preparation has already started. The bigger picture is the thing.”
CAF has named Cape Verde official Fabricio Duarte as referee for tomorrow’s match. His compatriot, Jose Carlos Alexandre Pina Mendes is the assistant referee 1, with Delgade Fernandes Wilson Jorge as assistant referee 2 and Delgado Rocha Lenine as fourth official.
The match commissioner is Martin Gomez from Gambia, while Togolese Latre-Kavi Edzona Lawson Hogban will be referee assessor. The match starts at 4pm.