Nige­ria face early exit

Su­per Ea­gles need to re­bound af­ter shock­ing opener

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT - BY SAMM AUDU

NIGE­RIA face Benin to­day with the World Cup-bound Su­per Ea­gles un­der huge pres­sure to stay in the African Cup of Na­tions af­ter a 3-1 loss to de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons Egypt in their opener.

Nige­ria coach, Shuaibu Amodu, has also been is­sued with an ul­ti­ma­tum to beat nextdoor neigh­bours Benin or else make way for his as­sis­tant, Daniel Amokachi, to take the team through the rest of the cham­pi­onship.

De­spite qual­i­fy­ing Nige­ria for the World Cup in South Africa later this year, Amodu has come un­der fire over his tac­tics and team se­lec­tion and the loss to Egypt on Tues­day paved the way for his crit­ics to again call for his head.

Amodu also qual­i­fied Nige­ria for the 2002 World Cup, but af­ter he failed to guide the team to the fi­nal of the Africa Cup of Na­tions in Mali, he was given the boot and in his place Ade­boye Onig­binde took charge of the Ea­gles at the World Cup.

Top of­fi­cials have ad­mit­ted that they have al­ready held talks with the Dutch coach of Mozam­bique, Mart Nooij, over the Ea­gles job even though the Nige­ria Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion (NFF) have con­tin­ued to de­clare their con­fi­dence in Amodu.

A first round exit from An­gola 2010 would also hit the play­ers in the pocket af­ter they agreed a win-bonus deal of $30,000-a-man if they progress to the kock­out stage of the com­pe­ti­tion. They will be left empty-handed if they crash out in the first round.

Wolfs­burg striker Obafemi Martins has been per­mit­ted to fly out to Europe to ap­pear be­fore an English court over a com­pen­sa­tion claim brought against him by his for mer agent af­ter of­fi­cials ini­tially an­nounced he was away to look over a trou­ble­some shin prob­lem. Of­fi­cials are con­fi­dent, how­ever, he will re­turn in time for to­day’s clash.

Ful­ham mid­fielder Dick­son Etuhu has shrugged off a knock on his left knee he re­ceived against Egypt and which forced him to skip train­ing on Wed­nes­day, while Loko­mo­tiv Moscow striker Osaze Odemwingie would likely start af­ter he re­cov­ered from a throat in­fec­tion.

Nige­ria will be favourites to win this clash, but skip­per Joseph Yobo says they have to be at their best against a Benin side that was full of run­ning and com­mit­ment against Mozam­bique in their open­ing group fix­ture.

“We are all dis­ap­pointed about what has hap­pened (the 3-1 loss to Egypt) and we know it is time to step up our game to avoid an early elim­i­na­tion from this cham­pi­onship,” said Yobo. “No one is happy about the re­sult, and we are looking for­ward to giv­ing our all in the next games.”

Benin are mak­ing their third Na­tions Cup ap­pear­ance and on all three oc­ca­sions they have clashed with their fel­low west Africans, los­ing all three matches. How­ever, the Squir­rels’ Nige­rian-bor n striker, Razak Omo­toyossi, has said he will not be do­ing the Ea­gles any favours on Satur­day.

“My tar­get is to score against Nige­ria,” said the Metz striker, who was in action two years ago in Ghana when Benin fell 2-0 to Nige­ria.

Omo­toyossi was at the heart of Benin’s ef­fort to record their first-ever Na­tions Cup victory against Mozam­bique on Tues­day, as he net­ted the penalty af­ter he was up­ended by the goal­keeper and then ini­ti­ated the move that re­sulted in an own goal by Mozam­bique de­fender Dario Khan.

How­ever, the game ended in a 2-2 draw.

The stocky striker will again be com­ple­mented by Stephane Sesseg­non from Paris St Ger­main, who against Mozam­bique showed flashes of the bril­liance that has sparked off a scram­ble for his sig­na­ture by sev­eral top English clubs. – Sapa-AFP

UN­DER FIRE: Su­per Ea­gles coach Shaibu Amodu

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