With just days to go to Nigeria’s first Afcon group stage encounter against the Pharoes of Egypt, a number of players have arrived in camp with several others rumoured to be on the way.
This represents a step in the right direction of the Super Eagles' Afcon preparations and is the sort of news we fans want to be reading from here on in.
No more distractions!
Even Egypt, though involved in a major tournament recently, do not also have time to play quality tune up matches ahead of their epic encounter against us Nigeria.
Sudan, the other team in the group, are leaving no stone unturned in preparing to face heavyweights Nigeria and Egypt and potential spoilers Guinea Bissau. They just played a high profile friendly match against Ethiopia that they narrowly lost 3:2.
Guinea Bissau coach has been talking tough ahead of the tournament as he expects to grind out favourable results against Nigeria and Egypt. “We have a tough group with strong teams like Egypt, Nigeria and Sudan.” Said coach Baciro Candé. “But we have what it takes to get some good results and qualify out of the group.”
I would implore Eguavoen and his team of coaches not to take the threat of Guinea Bissau lightly. Though currently ranked 106 on the FIFA rankings, they have players from decent European clubs.
Eguavoen has already stated that he would prepare for teams very differently based on the threat each poses. With more players trickling into the camp, the preparations should pick up pace in the coming days.
It was good to read how the late call ups like Ebuehi and Olayinka embraced their invitations despite being previously overlooked. This is the Nigeria-Spirit that helps produce results when odds are stacked against the Super Eagles.
Despite not having that much time to prepare, these are players that having been together for over 3 years now. 100% of Rohr’s Nigerian coaching crew were retained whilst Eguavoen was the same technical director during the world cup qualifiers.
So there is measure of continuity.
Once all the recent distractions fade into the background, what should emerge from the crucible is a team of players and coaches with sufficient hunger, desire and passion to do Nigeria proud against all odds.
The first match against Egypt will set the tone and should be played in frenetic pace.
I am beginning to look forward to it with relish and excitement. As the Super Eagles camp start to slowly swirl with players so will my confidence and morale begin to rise again.
To be honest, the Super Eagles are not new to haphazard preparations prior to tournaments. This has somewhat paradoxically failed to harm their chances in some tournaments (for example how Nigeria won bronze in football at the 2016 Rio Olympics despite questionable preparations).
Crazy preparations is in the DNA of the Nigerian set up, regardless of the NFF administration at the time.
But once the team settle to play, it is usually a different ball game.
Let’s hope this happen proves to be the same for the Super Eagles!
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