11th October, 2013
Barely 48 hours to the crucial World Cup qualifying playoff between Walya Antelope of Ethiopia and the Super Eagles of Nigeria in Addis Ababa, soccer-loving Nigerians are hopeful that the Africa champions have what it takes to emerge victorious on Sunday.
The last time Nigeria played in Addis Ababa, they forced the Ethiopians to a 2-2 in the qualifier for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations. The Eagles also beat Ethiopia 2-0 in their group game at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa.
Some Nigerians who spoke about Sunday’s match expressed confidence that Ethiopia will fall despite playing before their vociferous fans in Addis Ababa.
Former Super Eagles’ defender, Taribo West said he does not see the Eagles losing the match, adding that Stephen Keshi and his Eagles will come out victorious.
“Eagles are going to Ethiopia to pick the maximum points. Although the tie will be tough, with the calibre of players Keshi invited to the team, Nigerians should expect victory,” he said.
Former Super Falcons’ Head Coach, Paul Hamilton cautioned the team not to be carried away with the 2-0 victory over Ethiopia at the last Nations Cup. He said the Ethiopians have improved on their game in the last one year. He, however, believes that the Eagles will do well in Addis Ababa.
“It is important to win the World Cup ticket in Addis Ababa so that our players will not be under pressure in the return leg fixture in Calabar. They always try to make Addis Ababa a fortress when they host other teams. We’ve known this fact for a long time. And we also know that to beat them, you must overwhelm them from the start,” he said.
Assistant Coach of the Eagles, Daniel Amokachi said the team cannot be intimidated by the Ethiopians. He said anything short of victory on Sunday will be a huge disappointment to Nigerian football fans.
“We have a lot of quality players in Nigeria. The likes of Emmanuel Emenike, Victor Moses, Ahmed Musa and Mike Obi are players that can make the difference.
“The good thing is that we work collectively as a team, because if the team is good the strikers will get more passes and score goals,” Amokachi said.
Former Nigerian goalkeeper, Dosu Joseph said the dreaded high altitude in Ethiopia will not stop the Eagles from running away with a good result in the match.
“I don’t see the weather becoming a major problem, our players are core professionals and they know what to do at any given time and situation.
“The pressure will be on the Ethiopians not on us, so we’ll have enough room to be natural. At least, try as much as possible to conserve strength while they cash in on our experience to run out the opponents.
“I don’t know what the scoreline will be but I’m certain the Eagles will come back with a draw. A draw will be ideal so that the Eagles will come home to wrap the game,” he told supersport.com.