by Ifreke Inyang
The big game is less than 24 hours away. At 2pm Nigerian time tomorrow, October 9, the Super Eagles will take on the Syli Stars of Guinea at the Abuja National Stadium. It is a very crucial game, as after 90 minutes, the ONLY team that will qualify from Group B for the 2012 Nations Cup will be decided. The Guineans hold the advantage, as they currently top the table with 13 points after five rounds of matches. Nigeria sits in second place with 10 point, losing only once – to Guinea in Conakry. There were no arguments or trading of blames, as the Eagles played badly and lost the game.
But the time for redemption has come. The Eagles have the Syli Stars in their territory, and only a win will do. Coach Samson Siasia has expressed optimisim ahead of the game. “We have players who can score three goals,” Siasia declared. “If I don’t have the players to beat Guinea I would not be talking confidently,” he said.
The Syli Stars know what is at stake and will not give the Eagles an easy game. In the first leg where they defeated the Eagles, they outplayed, outclassed and outmuscled them. And now that they know they are just 90 minutes away from grabbing a ticket to the next Nations Cup, I am sure they will give their all.
There has been so much talk about kick off time. The Confederation of African Football fixed all the last group matches for 2pm on October 8. Although the Nigeria Football Federation protested, the game will still go ahead as planned.
“The sun will be harsh about 2pm and I would have preferred to play in the evening and this is not about Nigeria alone,” Siasia complained. “It is about good football. If the conditions are not good you cannot guarantee good football. That’s why I back our federation in their protest. NFF is making a case for good football in the continent and not just for Nigeria.”
Having said so, the Nigerian Coach quickly added that no matter the time the match kicks off, the Super Eagles will triumph. “We are fine and will play the match at 2pm if there is no result from the protest. The players we have can win the Nations Cup and Guniea should not stop them. The players have given me confidence and I know that they will deliver. Honestly, one should be talking about the Nations Cup trophy and not qualification but as it is we must face the qualification first and that’s why all of us must join hands to work for it. We shall be there.”
I agree with Siasia, but I also expect the Super Eagles to raise their game. Yes, they have been playing very well under him, but they need to up the tempo tomorrow and beat the Guinean National team ‘Syli’. Having said so, I expect us to win by at least three goals and get the ticket at stake.