After suffering their first defeat in 40 years in a World Cup Qualifying match in Lagos last Thursday, the Super Eagles are desperate to redeem their image in Douala on Sunday against the Central African Republic.
Coach Gernot Rohr’s men have their minds on the twin mission of redemption and revenge against the Wild Beasts who have suddenly become contenders in the race for tickets to the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Group C table-toppers, Nigeria, were expected to make mincemeat of CAR in Lagos, but the Eagles failed to find a way past a rearguard of Captain Saint-cyr Ngam-Ngam, Peter Guinari, Flory Yangao, Sadock Ndobe and Melky Ndokomandji.
Having been punished for supposedly underrating the team 90 places below them on the monthly FIFA rankings, the Super Eagles are expected to be more serious-minded in their approach to their matchday 4 tie at the Japoma Stadium in Douala on Sunday.
Special match for Musa
Going into Sunday’s crucial tie, Skipper Ahmed Musa will look forward to earning his milestone 100th cap for Nigeria at senior level, though he says he is more concerned with the Super Eagles taking all three points in the matchday 4 encounter.
He said: “I’m happy that I am about to win my 100th cap, which definitely is a thing of joy and pride for any football player at the international level. However, I am more concerned about the three points.
“The three points here have become much more precious due to what happened in the first leg which we lost.
“The individual honour is welcomed but I am more concerned about collective glory and our country’s pride.”
Interestingly Nigeria boasts an impressive away record in FIFA World Cup qualifiers which hopefully will count for something on Sunday.
The Super Eagles are unbeaten in their last 19 matches in the competition to date.
Their last defeat was against Angola on June 20, 2004, from Fabrice Akwa’s 84th-minute effort that subdued the West Africans inside Luanda’s Estádio da Cidadela.
On his part, the Super Eagles coach, Rohr, is also confident his side can make amends for their disappointing loss in Lagos.
Rohr is particularly delighted that his boys will be playing on a good pitch where they can express themselves well and deliver on the needed result.
“We had a good training session,” the German coach said on NFF TV.
“We know that the AFCON will give us wonderful infrastructure, the pitch is nice, the stadium is wonderful. It will be empty tomorrow (Sunday) but it’s not a problem for us.
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“We have to play our football on this great pitch and we can do it better than Thursday. We have to get a good result because everybody knows victory is necessary.
“We couldn’t do it the other day but now we have the opportunity and that’s why the team will not change so much. We need two or three fresh players into the team and also we need good communication between us and we are confident that tomorrow’s game will be good.”
The Super Eagles cannot afford another loss as they would be outrightly knocked off the top position in the group.
A draw may still prove disastrous for Nigeria if Cape Verde complete a double over the Lone Stars having recorded a famous win in Monrovia three days earlier.
The match kicks off at 2 p.m. Nigerian time.