By Albert Akota
The President of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Mr. Amaju Melvin Pinnick has charged the players to remember the heroics of their predecessors and imbibe the spirit with which the Class of 2001 demolished the Falcons of Jediane3-0 at home and 4-0 away in Korea/Japan 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
On January 27, 2001, the Eagles lashed the Falcons 3-0 in Port Harcourt, and then secured a vital 4-0 win in Omdurman on July 1 of the same year to virtually seal the ticket to the Far East.
“I am of the firm belief that you are capable of re-enacting those wonderful memories of fabulous wins over Sudan home and away, and the NFF is fully behind you to go to Khartoum and conquer.
Then, we will prepare to complete the job here in Abuja before we plan for the two remaining games in November,” Amaju said in Abuja on Thursday.
He added: “As true warriors and champions of Africa that you are, Nigerians have no doubt about what you are capable of doing in Khartoum. This is the first competitive match under this new administration and we are giving you every motivation to achieve victory.”
In 13 contests at senior level since November 1963, Sudan has only beaten Nigeria on two occasions. The more experienced Falcons battered the Red Devils 4-0 in Nigeria’s first appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations in 1963, in Kumasi (Ghana), and then narrowly edged a 1968 Olympic Games qualifier 2-1 in Khartoum, though Nigeria qualified after winning the home leg 1-0.
The most famous two-leg showdown between both countries came in 1969, when both teams tied 2-2 in Ibadan and 3-3 in Khartoum in a 1970 FIFA World Cup qualifying series.
Nigeria narrowly eliminated Sudan from the 1974 Africa Cup of Nations race, though failed to reach the finals in Egypt. On the way to winning bronze at the 1976 finals in Ethiopia, the Eagles defeated the Falcons 1-0 in Dire Dawa, and a 0-0 draw in Khartoum in a 1994 Cup of Nations qualifier preceded a 4-0 thumping by the Eagles in Lagos.