…Pinnick wants Eagles to win for PMB
It will be a mouth-watering cracker in the final day of the 2018 African Nation’s Cup Championship (CHAN) when host Morocco trade-tackle Nigeria’s Super Eagles at the Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca this evening. Kick-off 9pm
The two sides came through rugged semi-finals on Wednesday evening: Morocco needed extra time to surpass a tough Libya 3-1 in a North African derby affair in Casablanca, while Nigeria fire passed the Sudan 1-0 in a fight to finish encounter in Marrakech.
In a bid to become the fourth winners of the CHAN, joining the honours board of DR Congo (champions in 2009 and 2016), and Libya (2014), the Atlas Lion and Super Eagles will have to play for 90minutes or more to determine who will be crown CHAN Champions 2018
Morocco gaffer Jamal Sellami salute his players after their victory, which was magnificent from star striker Ayoub El Kaabi with a brace and now has eight goals in the tournament and look forward to receive the golden boot award as the highest goal scorer for the tournament.
“I congratulate my players, who made a great match despite the difficulties they faced,” said Sellami after the clash with Libya.
“We were opposed to organised selection that caused us a lot of problems.
“The fatigue of the Libyan players has done us a great service,” he admitted. “No matter who our opponent is in the final, what matters is the state of my players
While Nigeria on the other hand, have enjoyed good tactics from Coach Salisu Yusuf’s promise operation do Nigeria proud reaching the final, as Akwa United forward Gabriel Okechukwu’s first half goal secured victory over Falcons of Jediane Sudan.
“Our target is the trophy, no less,” said the Nigeria coach, who added: “Reaching the final alone will mean history for this team.
“The final of the African Nations Championship beckons and we will go out there with all that we have got.”
Looking at the history books, Morocco and Nigeria have met in 12 official matches according to FIFA’s database. Each side has five wins on their belts while in two games they both shared the spoils.
Most recent meeting between the two sides was in the South Africa 2014 edition of the CHAN, with the Super Eagles great come back from 0-3 to win the game 4-3 that saw the game came to an end after extra time in a quarterfinal tie in Cape Town.
Meanwhile, NFF president, Amaju Pinnick has appealed to Coach Salisu Yusuf-led squad to win the African Nations Championship trophy for President Muhammadu Buhari.
Pinnick, who met with the players and commended them for their win over Sudan in Marrakech on Wednesday, said the big message was that they could not afford to go this far only to go down to the host country.
“On behalf of the NFF Executive Committee and the entire Nigerian Football family, I praise you for your tremendous efforts in getting this far in the face of numerous challenges. You are great ambassadors of our dear nation.
“However, the truth is that you have raised the expectations of the Government and people of Nigeria back home, and now you just have to do all that it will take to win the Cup.
President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) has been following with keen interest your campaign here, and the only way to compensate him for his support and encouragement is to go back home with the CHAN trophy.”
Head coach, Salisu Yusuf, reacts to that: “Every team is beatable. If we do the right things, we will beat Morocco.”
Yusuf has coped commendably with set –backs in this tournament, having to think up the right formula to come back from deficit levels against Equatorial Guinea and Angola, and to re-jig his squad after several first –team players were knocked out by injury before the semifinal against Sudan. Even therein, he had to strategize for resistance against Sudan after they had to play half an hour with 10 men against 11.
Going into Sunday’s Final, former Nigeria international Yusuf is tested further with injury to goalkeeper and Captain Ikechukwu Ezenwa in the semifinal ruling him out of the big clash, and 45,000 home fans cheering on the Atlas Lions.
“In football, you have to be prepared for anything. We have managed a few situations through the campaign and still have to manage some going into the final match. I believe we will cope well and overcome.”
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