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AFCON 2019: How Far Can Nigeria Go?

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The Super Eagles of Nigeria will be participating in the 32nd edition of AFCON in Egypt, and this is no news. The Eagles, ranked number 45 in the World, and 3rd in Africa are always expected to be present where 24 best African footballing nations will assemble for a fiesta in football.

Expectedly, the Super Eagles qualified from the group stages with a match to spare. This has not really been the case in the two previous qualifications, where prayer and miracles were often invoked for things to happen. Our going to AFCON 2019 was even made sweeter by the fact that Nigeria since winning the championship in South Africa in

2013 failed to register her in 2015 and 2017 editions.

Going to Egypt is a big relief for the numerous soccer fans and government of the day. In Nigeria, the Super Eagles victory is a big political matter. The government of the day owns the team when victory is achieved.

Nigerians expect a lot from the Super Eagles in Egypt. When the competition begins on Friday the 21 st of June, 2019, the only focus of most soccer fans is that Nigeria should win her 4th trophy. At the moment, the Super Eagles appear to have the best assemblage of young players who are eager to make their marks on the continent. These young players full of energy will be complimented with old reliable like Mikel Obi, Ahmed Musa and Odion Ighalo. This blend will augur well if the team takes their chances within 90 minutes of their games.

The build-up to this tournament by the Super Eagles in terms of preparations has been impressive as the NFF has been able to put in place a decent camping arrangement. From assembling and training in Asaba to jetting out to Ismaila Egypt for further training, The Super Eagles have really not been denied anything in terms of material support. The friendly matches played so far may not have yielded the results expected.

Nigeria played a goalless draw with Zimbabwe in Asaba and lost their final warm-up friendly match in Ismaila to the Teranga Lions of Senegal last Sunday. Giving, that friendly matches are for correcting or perfecting tactical approaches, sometimes friendlies comes give build some levels of confidence as a team gel towards a tournament.

The Eagles are fortunate to be in group B where relatively weaker teams (on paper) will feature. Burundi and Madagascar are coming to AFCON for the first time, while Guinea though once a power house in African football is not currently in form. So far, Super Eagles coming through from this group is a sure banker. What happens after this first round will be seen as the competition progresses.

On current rating and form, Supper Eagles are the third best team in Africa. Under Pinnick as NFF president and CAF vice president, Nigeria will be a privileged team. The usual unfavourable politics in football that can make a good team loose will not apply to Nigeria this time around.

In fact, Pinnick is Chairman of the tournaments’ organizing committee, and this has given the Super Eagles the protection from poor officiating and high handedness. It is left for the team now to play football on the field of play.

The Nigeria coaching crew is balanced and good enough under the leadership of Gernot Rohr with the entitlements of the team already being agreed upon, the issues of camp allowances and bonus all done deals, one hopes that the team is competing in the tournament with a focused mind to winning the championship. A fourth title is what Nigerians pray for now, and on the 7th of July, 2019 at the blast of referees final whistle, Nigeria will erupt with jubilation.

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