Nigeria’s Super Eagles B team is in a dicey situation, going into Saturday’s second leg match against Ghana’s Black Galaxies in an African Nations Championships, CHAN qualifying match.
The coach Salisu Yusuf-tutored side was beaten 2-0 in the first leg played in Cape Coast last weekend and now need to overturn that deficit if they will actualise the dream of making it to Algeria next year.
Will it be déjà vu?
With this, it appears the same script is playing out once more, as fierce football rivals, Nigeria and Ghana, will battle over a qualification ticket to a major football tournament for the umpteenth time.
However, while both teams were evenly poised in the race to qualify for the Qatar 2022 World Cup last term, the home-based Super Eagles are at a disadvantage in the race to qualify for the 2023 CHAN tournament.
The battleground will be the M.K.O Abiola stadium in Abuja, where thousands of fans were left heartbroken after the main Super Eagles team could not secure a ticket to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Kickoff is 4 p.m.
The ugly scenes and punishment that greeted that failure are still fresh in the minds of many.
However, the prayer on the lips of football faithful this term is Nigeria will not only carry the day but do enough to pick the solitary ticket up for grabs.
Just like in March, the Nigeria Football Federation has declared the gates open so that as many fans as possible can come to cheer the home-based Eagles to victory.
Salisu Yusuf, the Eagles B coach, is full of optimism, believing that his team will beat the loud-mouthed Ghana team to the coveted ticket.
Yusuf, who led the Class of 2018 to a second-place finish in the 2018 Morocco finals tournament, stated that the team is focused on scoring enough goals to overcome the deficit incurred in the away leg.
“What is past is past, and that is the case with the match we played in Ghana. Now we are looking forward to a good match on Saturday.
“We are doing all we need to do to achieve our utmost desire to be in Algeria next year. There may have been one or two lapses that caught us on the bad end in Cape Coast, but we can’t continue to dwell on that. We want to achieve a good result on Saturday,” Coach Yusuf declared.
Though some agitated for a wholesale change to the side that lost in the first leg, Yusuf revealed he has kept faith with most of the players, though he admits there may be a few changes here and there.
“It is going to be more like 88 to 90 per cent of the team we presented in Ghana last Sunday. Remember that Abubakar was injured in a moment we thought should have produced a penalty kick for us. He has not recovered fully and so may not feature,” the coach added.
But while Nigeria is hoping to get at least three goals against Ghana, the Black Galaxies coach Anor Walker sees that as a huge joke.
For Walker, Nigeria’s biggest weakness is their ‘blunt’ attack and nothing suggests they can deny his team to qualifying for the CHAN tournament this time.
“It will not be possible,” he stated when asked by reporters in Ghana if the Nigerian team would turn around the table.
“I have not seen any threat in the attack on Nigeria. And I have seen the way they play. We will also strategise for it and when we get to Nigeria, it’s going to be another strategy we will use to approach the game. We are not coming to Nigeria to lose, so we will not be able to qualify.
“We are going to Nigeria for sure to qualify for CHAN next year.”
The team, with an aggregate victory after Saturday’s tie, qualifies for the tournament in Algeria early next year.
Unlike Nigeria, Ghana has failed to qualify for the last three editions of the CHAN tournaments despite doing well when they are there.
The Black Galaxies have twice been in the finals, losing in 2007 to DR Congo in the inaugural edition before suffering a penalty shootout loss to Libya in 2014.
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