Foot in the Door


The Super Eagles of Nigeria are half way to Brazil 2014 World Cup by booking a place in the playoff stage

By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Sep. 23, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

THE Super Eagles of Nigeria are one step away from qualifying for the Brazil 2014 World Cup. The team topped group F after defeating the Flames of Malawi by two goals at the U. J. Esuene Stadium Calabar, Cross River State. Goals from Emmanuel Emenike and Victor Moses in each half of the encounter ensured that the Super Eagles booked its place in the playoffs.

The Super Eagles also intensified their readiness for the playoffs by beating Burkina Faso, 4-1 in an international friendly game played in Kaduna, on Tuesday, September 10. Both sides used the tie to intensify their readiness and also to give their fringe players some playing time as some of the top players were missing in the match. Burkina Faso didn’t have big name players like: Jonathan Pitriopa, Alain Traore Bakari Kone and Aristide Bance all unavailable for the game, while Nigeria, didn’t field Vincent Enyeama, John Obi Mikel and Victor Moses.

Super Eagles Team
Super Eagles Team

The draw for the playoffs will be conducted on Monday, September 16, in Cairo, Egypt. The 10 teams that qualify for the knockout stage are Cote D’Ivoire, Ghana, Algeria, Nigeria and Cape Verde, later replaced by Tunisia. Others are Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Egypt, Senegal and Cameroon. The FIFA ranking for the month of September seeded Nigeria in pot one alongside Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Tunisia and Algeria.

Stephen Keshi, Super Eagles coach, said he was ready to face any opponent to pick one of the five tickets reserved for Africa. He said he was going to prepare hard for any opponent as there was no easy match anymore, adding that his players did very well to win Malawi. “We are ready to face any team in pot two. We just have to train harder for any opposition as there are no easy matches anymore. My prayer is that the team will continue to wax stronger and stronger,” he said.

John Obi Mikel, Super Eagles midfielder, advised his teammates that the job of picking the vital World Cup ticket was half done. He said that the team was ready for any team in the knockout stage. “We have done 50 percent of the job and hopefully we will complete it by winning the playoff to qualify for the World Cup. We will be ready for whoever we will be drawn against. We just have to remain focused and we will be back in Brazil again,” he said.

Kanu Nwankwo, former Super Eagles captain, is sure that the flag of Nigeria will be hoisted in Brazil as one of the participating teams when the World Cup kicks off in 2014. He said as African champions, he believed that the Keshi-led team would scale the last hurdle ahead of it to make it to Brazil. “The players are hungry to be in Brazil and that is very good. I don’t see any team stopping us after going this far. We have a team that can beat any team in Africa. Don’t forget that we are the champions of the continent so I don’t have any fear in me, I know Nigeria will qualify for the World Cup,” he said.

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