When the Super Eagles file out against the Lone Star of Liberia today at the U.J. Esuene Stadium in Calabar for the 2013 Africa Nations Cup decider, the only thing that will be on the mind of soccer-loving Nigerians is victory.
That is because it is the surest way to grab the ticket for the Nations Cup party holding in South Africa in January, more so after the Eagles failed to appear at the last edition co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon.
At that occasion, the Eagles had a home game like the one of today and needed victory to pick the group ticket ahead of the Syli Nationale of Guinea. That was not to be as the Guineans nicked a last minute equaliser to go top of the group and qualify.
Today’s tie means much not only to the players who are hungry to be on the African stage once again but to their coach, Stephen Keshi who wants to avoid the same pitfall of his predecessor, Samson Siasia as his continue stay as the team’s coach depended heavily on his qualifying for the Nations Cup.
Aware of this, Keshi, who has the record of being the longest serving captain of the Eagles has told Nigerians that all that mattered now was qualification of the team and not whether the team played samba football as he was still trying to get the desired team of their dream.
He has also assured Nigerians, while speaking on a Ray Power FM sports programme monitored in Lagos that he was only going to field only players fit enough to withstand whatever game plan the Liberians were going to present.
Keshi’s match plan suffered a blow with the reported injury of his captain and defence pillar, Joseph Yobo but he seems to have taken it in good fate assuring that his absence, though painful, will not disrupt his game plan to stop the mouthy Liberians from the South African party.
“There is no panic over Yobo’s injury, we are just motivated to secure the ticket and reassure him that we will all be together at SA 2013,” Keshi told supersport.com, adding, “We know he (Yobo) loves to play games like this, that was why he was shedding tears but we have assured him that capable replacement will help secure the ticket to South Africa 2013 Nations Cup.”
The Eagles need victory of whatever margin to qualify even though a goalless or 1-1 draw will equally see them through but Nigerians feel that anything less than victory is belittling for the twice crowned African champion.