The Nigeria senior men’s national football team will officially begin their quest for a seventh appearance at the FIFA World Cup on Friday in Lagos.
The Super Eagles will be up against the Lone Stars of Liberia at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, Lagos, in what represents their first World Cup qualifying match at the Centre of Excellence in 21 years.
While the occasion would have seen thousands throng the Surulere Sports City, CAF has allowed only 5,000 spectators to be accommodated at the Teslim Balogun Stadium for the match.
This is as a result of the global coronavirus pandemic and preventive measures, protocols and guidelines.
Ranked over 100 places ahead of their Friday opponents, the Super Eagles (34th) are overwhelming favourites for a victory over the Lone Stars (152nd).
In 17 previous clashes with Liberia’s Lone Star, the Super Eagles have won 10 matches, drawing three and losing four.
One of the four losses was in Monrovia in July 2000, when a team led by the man who is now that country’s President (George Weah) shot 2-0 ahead before Sunday Oliseh pulled one back for a 1-2 loss for Nigeria in a 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifying match.
A winning start by the Super Eagles will see them leap to the top of their group after group mates, Cape Verde and the Central African Republic, ended their tie in a 1-1 stalemate in their Day 1 encounter in Douala, Cameroon, on Wednesday.
Central African Republic are playing their home games in Cameroon as CAF has certified none of their home venues worthy of hosting international matches.
With 29 players sweating it out in Lagos in the past days, Coach Genort Rohr would be hoping his wards can hit the ground running with a win on Friday.
The Franco-German has already warned his team against any form of complacency as what transpired a few months back in the AFCON qualifying match against Sierra Leone remains fresh in his memory.
The Super Eagles were held to a 4-4 draw in Benin City by the Leone Stars, a result which slowed down their qualification for the tournament in Cameroon.
One of the players who scored in that pulsating eight-goal thriller, Kelechi Iheanacho, has already given assurance he and his colleagues will do all that is necessary for a positive outcome against the Lone Stars.
“We are really focused on the game. The mood is good and everyone is ready and raring to go. We are happy and the camp is good,” Iheanacho told journalists in Lagos
“All the teams in our group are difficult. The game with Liberia is expected to be tough. We will need to concentrate on our own work and make sure we win and take each game as it comes.” the Leicester City forward added.
After Friday’s match, the players from the United Kingdom will fly back to base, with the rest travelling to the island of Mindelo on Sunday night for Tuesday’s clash with the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde in a Day 2 encounter.