Nigeria News

Super Eagles In AFCON To Participate Or To Compete?

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Nigeria News take a look at the stance of Super Eagles at the African Cup of Nations, which begins this week.

The African Cup of Nations begins this week in Egypt. After missing the last two, Super Eagles qualified for the Egypt 2019 as one of the favourites to win the cup.

The Gernot Rohr’s boys hit Ismaila camp last week after a dreary goalless friendly with Zimbabwe National Team at the Steven Keshi Stadium Delta State last week.

The team also played its last tune-up match with Teranga Lions of Senegal behind closed doors. Both teams’ coaches agreed to do so to perfect their tactics before going to the competition proper. Nigeria lost by 0-1 to Senegal.

Senegal is rated best in Africa with Nigeria taking the third position behind Egypt. Nobody has given the current champion, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon any chance to retain the cup except the former African legend, Roger Miller. He is of the opinion that the indomitable lions can easily retain the cup it won two years ago.

But the Guinean legend, Abubakar Titi Camara thinks that one of Senegal, Egypt and Nigeria would win the cup, going by their FIFA rating and the qualities of players they will be parading at the championship.

This is the first time Nigeria will be going to AFCON without much expectation either from the country’s Football Federation or millions of football loving Nigerians.

At present, no target has been given to Rohr. The players are not at all under pressure to go and win the cup. Nigeria is in the same group with Burundi, Guinea and Madagascar, which to many followers is one of the easiest groups.

Yet the captain of the Super Eagles, John Obi Mikel does not see the group as easy. To him, there are no minnows again in football, adding that the Super Eagles must work hard to qualify from the group.

Mikel who may be playing his last AFCON is of the opinion that the blend of young but highly exposed players and the old but experienced players could bring the best out of the present Super Eagles squad.

The team has more young talents and I think they are going to AFCON to enjoy themselves and of course, play to win.

In 2013 that Nigeria won the cup in South Africa, the late coach Steven Keshi paraded virtually young players who rose to the occasion and eventually emerged victorious.

However, Senegal is condemned to win this tournament with its arrays of stars, including Sadio Mane, the Liverpool forward.

The Teranga had done well at the world stage, reaching the quarterfinal in its first appearance at the FIFA World cup in 2006.

But in Africa, the closest the Senegalese had gone was second place, winning Silver on two occasions.

For Egypt, the world will expect the English Premiership star, Mohammed Salah to lift the Pharaohs out of their group to emerge the next winner of the AFCON.

For Super Eagles of Nigeria, the experience of Ahmed Musa, a four-goal World cup hero, the sublime skills of the midfield maestro, Mikel and the dribbling dexterity of the new found eagles, Samuel Chukwueze from Villarreal of Spain may prove the Nigeria team a team to beat in Egypt.

On Saturday, the team suspended all training for boat regatta in Ismaila. They cruised the seas that bounded North Africa from Europe.

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