The long awaited day has finally come. The Super Eagles will kick-start their Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier against the Chipolopolo of Zambia this afternoon at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium, Ndola, and coach Gernot Rohr says it is victory on nothing.
The Eagles departed Abuja for Ndola, Zambia, in the early hours of yesterday. The 148 –seater Arik Air Boeing 737-800 aircraft touched down at the Simon Kawewe International Airport, Ndola at 12.07pm Zambia time (11.07am Nigeria time), after a 4-hour-and-20-minute flight from Abuja.
Officials of the High Commission of Nigeria in Zambia and officials from the Football Association of Zambia welcomed the delegation, with a dozen Nigerian youth waving a big banner and miniature Nigerian flags. The banner read: Welcome to Zambia. Super Eagles of Nigeria. Go, Super Eagles Go.
FAZ officials hinted thenff.com that football that President Edgar Chagwa Lungu is expected to be special guest of honour today’s match.
The Super Eagles, who are staying at the Protea Hotel Marriott, which is adjacent to the match venue – Levy Nwanawasa Stadium, were scheduled to have their official training at 4.30pm yesterday.
Today’s encounter, the first FIFA World Cup qualifying match at senior level between both countries, will kick off at 2.30pm Zambia time (1.30pm Nigeria time).
Both teams failed to qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Gabon, and coach Rohr believes the Zambians will be fired up for today’s battle of Ndola.
“Having missed the Nations Cup, Zambia will want to make a statement with the World Cup qualifiers because they also want to win,” Rohr said. “They are motivated like Nigeria but I think that we are hungrier than them. All our players are fit, including the ones that reported to camp with minor injuries. We are ready for the game,” he said.
Though the coach has said that the Super Eagles would approach the match with caution.
In 2012, the Chipolopolo of Zambia shocked the world by emerging African champions in the Nations Cup co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea by beating the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire. The Super Eagles, who were absent at the 2012 edition of the Nations Cup, won the 2013 edition in South Africa, where the Chipolopolo failed to qualify.
According to Supersport.com, Rohr said that the Zambians are very strong in attack: “We have worked on the best tactics to win them but what is indisputable is that they are also a strong side. The same motivation with our motivation but our motivation can be bigger because I feel that the team wants absolutely to win the game.
“We must be careful. When you want to win the game away, sometimes you forget to defend well. We must be careful and don’t make this mistake,” he explained.
Rohr will have several stars playing their first competitive game under him for the first time today.One of them is Arsenal forward, Alex Iwobi who has already been capped six times by Nigeria at senior level.
“We have six new players and three will perhaps start the game. You know that a player like Iwobi was injured last time we played Tanzania in Uyo, but we all know that he is a good player and I hope his integration in the team will produce (a good) result in Ndola.
“We have other strategies but similar with what we did in Uyo, and I count on Iwobi to help us win the game in Ndola.In Uyo, the Super Eagles had 27 shots on goal but converted only one. “We must avoid such mistake in Ndola. We must have a good attack and players who can score,” Rohr said.
The coach is also banking on Man City striker, Kelechi Iheanacho for goals.
Source : Guardian.ngGuardian.ng