The opponents of Nigeria for the make-or-break Cup of Nations qualifier have released their squad for the encounter and it signals a statement of intent.
The Beninois FA this week released a list of 23 players drawn from foreign leagues who are expected to knock the stuffing out of Nigeria’s Cup of Nations intentions.
What makes me laugh is that old-cargo Omotoyossi, who has been blabbering about how they will whitewash Nigeria, was ignominiously excluded.
If he needs a reminder that his national team days are well behind him, his omission from this squad should drill it home. Just like Nigeria, Benin Republic has a pool of young and vibrant indigenous and dual nationality players to draw from.
Even as an opposing fan, the Squirrels’ squad looks tantalising indeed.
No less than 10 of the players play in reputable division 1 and 2 leagues across Europe. You have 2 based in Bulgaria, 1 from Australia (he used to play in the English Premier League) the others based in decent African leagues.
It is not a poor squad.
There was a time when Benin saw themselves as second fiddle to Nigeria in international football however, their confidence has risen in recent seasons so much so they almost caused an upset in Nigeria in the first leg.
It took the individual brilliance of Samuel Kalu and a penalty kick for the Super Eagles to overcome an earlier scare and eventually win 2:1.
But now they want their revenge for that loss and none other than omitted outsider Omotoyossi has been talking up his team’s chances, again.
“A win is what we are pushing for and it is possible,” said Omotoyossi according to owngoalnigeria.com. “We started well in the reverse fixture by scoring first before Nigeria’s 2 goals gave them a 2:1 win.”
The Super Eagles can’t afford to be complacent. From all indications, Benin are fired up for this encounter. I just pray the NFF eschews all forms of distraction and just focus squarely on getting the 3 points on offer.
Sadly, the same NFF has started taking steps that are causing fans much anxiety: they are mulling over transporting the Super Eagles players by boat to Benin.
If fans are finding this idea ludicrous, I wonder how the Europe based players will find such a concept. But crucially how such initiatives can distract the Super Eagles and ultimately derail efforts.
Also, if Benin can release their own list now, what is the NFF waiting for?
Benin has released a strong squad and their players are talking tough ahead of this encounter. We Super Eagles fans wait eagerly for the squad list to come out and for the NFF to ensure no stone is left unturned in guaranteeing a favourable outcome on March 27.
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