Nigeria face early exit
Super Eagles need to rebound after shocking opener
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