In sports, victory has many associates, just as defeat is an orphan. Before the kick off of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroun, not many football fans in Africa gave the Super Eagles the chance of winning their opening game against the Pharaohs of Egypt, considering the shoddy preparation Nigeria had before the tournament.From the furore over the sack of former coach, Gernot Rohr, to appointment of Augustine Eguavoen on interim basis, as well as the refusal by some European clubs to release some key players, the Super Eagles was seen as a team that will only make up the numbers in Cameroun.
But that impression seems to have changed. Now, the Super Eagles have suddenly become one of the most sought-after teams in Cameroun. At the team’s training session in Garoua on Thursday, fans, including some foreign scouts, scrambled to see the players.
Only a few now pay attention to Egypt and Liverpool dangerman, Mohammed Salah.
For football fans in Garoua, the focus is on Nigerian stars, particularly the duo of Kelechi Iheanacho and Moses Simon.
With the game against Pharaohs now history, the Super Eagles say their approach to today’s clash with Sudan won’t be different.
In fact, Iheanacho, whose lone strike sent the Egyptians to beds early on Tuesday, has vowed to do the damage against the Sudanese this afternoon.
If their pre-match boast are anything to go by, today’s match in Garoua will produce many goals, as the Super Eagles say they will deploy every mechanism to render the Sudanese helpless.
All 26 players (bar the injured defender Chidozie Awaziem) were on duty on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, with Head Coach Augustine Eguavoen telling the boys clearly that they are yet to win anything, but on the way to doing great things if they keep level heads.
The vive and enthusiasm is indeed palpable. At the pre-match press conference yesterday, Eguavoen maintained his trademark calm mien and assured that his boys will go out to play positively to win on Saturday, with discipline and focus being the watchwords for them within the 90 minutes.
Eguavoen’s 51 caps for Nigeria did not include a run-out with Sudan, but he played against other North African countries, and as coach, led the Super Eagles to snatch their best-ever result in that region when they defeated the Fennecs of Algeria 5-2 in Oran, in a 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying match on September 8, 2005.
“We saw the game between Sudan and Guinea Bissau on Tuesday and what I can assure you is that we will not be under-rating them. We are taking it one match at a time and will approach this game differently from how we set up against Egypt. We will throw in our very best.”
Victory will not only assure the Eagles of a place in the Round of 16, but also brings closer the possibility of topping the group and therefore retaining the familiar surroundings of Garoua as venue.