By Taofeek Lawal, Abuja
The senior national fotball team, the Super Eagles, seem to have rediscovered her form with the way it beat daylight out of perennial rival, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, as the road to 2018 World Cup in Russia gather more dust. Against all odds, the Gernot Rohr team not only taught the Cameroonians some football lessons, they reduced the reigning African champions to mere pedestrians on the pitch. It was a game the Cameroonians would never forget in a hurry and the Eagles will relish for a very long time. The era of domination by the ‘Lions’ is gradually coming to an end.
Nigerians still remember vividly how the Cameroonians had been thorn in our flesh in African football. It was at our expense that they won the AFCON three times in 1984, 1988 and 2002 and two of the victories came under the leadership of Issa Hayatou at CAF. It is no mean feat that we trounced them comprehensively penultimate week at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo before the draw in Yaounde which finally seal their World Cup hope. I did not pity the Cameroonians, it is just the payback time; they stopped us from going to the World Cup in 1990.
I remember calling on the Eagles to prepare very well fo the Lions as the outcome of the double-header games would determine who qualifies for the World Cup between us. I am happy that the technical crew and the players listened to my message and did the needful on the pitch. When Nigerians were castigating Rohr and calling for his head because of the loss to the Bafana Bafana, I said the loss was a blessing in disguise for us as it would make the boys to know the importance of the Cameroon game and I’m glad they learnt their lessons early.
The Eagles should know that it is not over until it is over. It is time to stop celebrating our victory over Cameroon and focus on the Zambia game. The Chipolopolo are potential threat to our appearance in Russia and we must do everything possible to beat them on October 7 in Uyo. The Zambians have lately resdicover their form and will be a hardnut to crack for the Eagles. But with proper planning on the part of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), commitment from the players and support from fans and supporters, I see Eagles pummeling the Zambians on Match Day 5 of the qualifiers. Early goal will kill the game plan of the Zambians and I want to call on the boys to avoid complacency. A win guarantees our flag being hoisted in Russia because it will take us to 13 unassailable points with a game to go and our next game against Algeria will be a mere formality which can be prosecuted by the home-based Eagles.
According to ex-international, Mutiu Adepoju, The Nigeria/Zambia game is a World Cup final for the Super Eagles. The ‘headmaster’ in a tweet said, “So proud of the Super Eagles, they buried the fear Cameroon bring. Next up is Zambia, we must prepare for that game like a World Cup final.” Eagles, let’s go there.