Don't Underrate Ethiopia, Hunga Warns Siasia Ahead Nations Cup Qualifier

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Despite the fact that the Super Eagles of Nigeria are blessed with array of stars scattered all over Europe and other parts of the world, securing the ticket to play in the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations may be a big problem for the team.

The road to the Nations Cup to be co hosted by Gabon/Equatorial Guinea will be tough for the senior national team. These were the submissions of a grassroots football coach, Hunpe Hunga.

Hunga, who guided Obaluaye Football Club to win the 1999 edition of the Lagos F.A Cup, believes that for the coach Samson Siasia-led side to qualify for the Nations Cup, they must treat all their group opponents with some respect.

The proprietor of a yet to be named football academy based in Ajara, Badagry, Lagos, Nigeria noted that big names don’t win matches especially qualifiers on the African continent. He argued that gone are the days, where other African countries dread Nigeria.

Even as Siasia has vowed to crush the Ethiopians in the qualifier scheduled for Abuja National Stadium later in the month, Hunga is convinced that if the Nigerian side fail to put up good performance against the visitors, the home team may be in for a big trouble in the crucial match.

Hunga with more than two decades as a soccer tactician cautioned the Eagles, who won the Nations Cup on two occasions in 1980 and 1994 not to be complacent in their approach to the qualifier, stating that underrating the Ethiopians may cause be a big problem for them.

According to him, “big names don’t play or win matches, matches are won on the field of play. It was in those days when countries want to play Nigeria that they were always afraid, but most African countries now see them as wiping dogs. My advise to the team is that as they prepare for their next match against Ethiopia, they must approach the game with seriousness. They should also know that there are no longer minnows in football”.

He also advised the technical crew to adopt wing play because that had always been the way Nigeria won matches in the past saying, “wing play is what we need if the Super Eagles must return to their winning ways. Thank goodness that the current coach of the team was a member of  the  Nigerian team that won the trophy at the Tunisia ’94 Africa Cup of Nations. He played with Finidi George and Emmanuel Amunike. They dominated the African continent then.  Siasia should revert to that tactic if he wants to make the team great again.”

Hunga  is of the opinion that doing away with the older players in the Eagles may not augur well with the team’s quest to qualify for the Nations Cup because the younger players still need to blend with the experienced ones in the team.

After two matches played so far, Nigeria have three points same with their next opponent, Ethiopia after the same number of matches played.

—Adebobola  Alawode