Two-goal hero in the Super Eagles victory over Ethiopia, Victor Moses, and Villarreal striker Ike Uche say the quarterfinal match against Ivory Coast on Sunday will not be one-sided. They warned that having crossed the group stage, Nigeria will be hard to dismiss.
They spoke just as the Nigerian camp remained in suspense over the exact official decision on Mikel Obi concerning his eligibility for the next game. The Confederation of African Football was yet to make a clear statement on Mikel by last night.
On Ivory Coast, Moses said, “It’s going to be a big match that the whole Africa will look out for. Our game is not entirely low in this competition and gradually, we are coming into the game fully.
“Our opponents have great players and good record in the first round. We did suffer a bit but that’s that. We are starting all over again and I can assure you that you can’t just dismiss Nigeria like that. We will respect them as great team but we are not behind them. It’s a quarterfinal match of the Nations Cup and you have to respect that.
Speaking on the crucial match, Uche said it was a difficult fixture that could not be avoided.
“It’s not easy when you have two great teams in the quarterfinals of a competition because one big team must go home. We are preparing for the game but until that day, there is nothing really to say. We all know the quality of the opponents, they have big stars like Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure but we also have our own players as well.
“Everyone talks about Drogba but he is just one of the many good players in the team. It’s not all about him. They have their plans and our coach has his own plan for the match. We are footballers and we are confident that we are going to move on.”
But even as the players get set, there is uncertainty in the Eagles camp over the availability of Mikel for the quarterfinal clash on Sunday.
CAF Executive Media Officer Emmanuel Maradas said after Eagles’ 2-0 victory over Ethiopia on Tuesday that Mikel could miss the cracker having got two yellow cards in the first round.
He said, “Mikel has two yellow cards and I am not sure he will be eligible to play the quarterfinals. But I have no definite answer on this matter. We have to wait till Wednesday when the technical committee sits on the disciplinary records of all the teams.”
As at press time on Wednesday, CAF was yet to issue any official statement on the matter. But it seems that Nigeria are preparing for the loss of the Chelsea midfielder and Fegor Ogude, who also has two yellow cards from the first round.
The CAF match statistics recorded only one yellow card for Mikel. But Maradas' statement on the issue is causing panic in the Nigerian camp.
Team goalkeeper trainer, Ike Shorunmu said the team had been notified of the development but no official statement from CAF yet.
“We heard it this morning (Wednesday) but we don’t want such thing to affect the team’s preparation for the match,” Ike said.