Home Based Eagles Set For CHAN Title Glory | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Home Based Eagles Set For CHAN Title Glory

Posted: Jan 15, 2016 at 9:24 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Augustine Akhilomen, Lagos

Nigeria’s hope of winning the Championship for Home African Nations (CHAN) for the first time will kick-start this weekend as the team will battle the rest of Africa in Kigali, Rwanda from January 16 to February 7.
The tournament which is meant for players plying their football trade in Africa is the fourth since it was introduced in 2009. It will serve as an open window for some of the current crop of players in the Super Eagles squad to attract lucrative contract in Europe.
This is the first tournament Eagles will play under Oliseh and Nigerians are expecting the team to surpass their 2014 record and it was widely agreed the team was not truly representative of the best players in the domestic championship.
Having enjoyed a successful warm-up match, where the team has remained unbeaten, drawing Angola 1-1 before beating Cote d’Ivoire 1-0, the team is ready to overcome group C opponents, Tunisia, Guinea and Niger, who happens to be Nigeria’s opening match on January 18 at the Stade Regional Nyamirambo.
Besides, considering the fact that no players are granted automatic shirt, a good performance for the Home Based Eagles in Rwanda may give them the opportunity of forcing their way into Oliseh’s first team for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations and 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
The Home Based Eagles will miss the services of Warri Wolves striker, Gbolahan Salami, who left the team camp in a bid to tidy up a contract in Europe. However, the team can still bank on Tunde Adeniji, Prince Aggrey, Cisom Chikatara and Ezikiel Bassey to shoulder the goal scoring responsibility.
Meanwhile, former Super Eagles winger Tijani Babanginda, who is a member of the backroom staff, insisted that the team can win the title with the level of preparation and the players in their disposal.
“The last time (2014), we qualified for the semifinals and finished in third place.
“This time, we want to win the title. Any other outcome will be unacceptable.
“Though in football, anything can happen but this team is going to Rwanda to fight and see that they get the trophy,” Babangida said.
Also, President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick has urged the home-based Eagles not to disappoint Nigerians at the championship but to work hard and surpass the country’s CHAN record.
“I expect them to continue the success run; I spoke to Oliseh this morning; we talk every day.
“I asked him if there were technical challenges and he said no that the most important thing in the field, which you can quote me, is that the boys are very enthusiastic.
“The boys have seen the run of very successful events in the past and now they are ready to go and glow.’’

Eagles’ foes
The Carthage Eagles of Tunisia come with a team full of steel and pedigree and have a CHAN title to their name which came in 2011 in Sudan thanks to a 3-0 hammering of Angola. They also have a great record in the Africa Cup of Nations and African Club Competitions. Tunisia has made 4 appearances at the FIFA World Cup and 16 appearances at the Africa Cup of Nations. They have been crown African Champions once and that came in 2004 when they were the host nation.

Niger are probably the outsiders in this group. They come with very little reputation at CAF competitions. They have only made 2 (two) appearances at the Africa Cup of Nations. The Menas of Niger are also making their second appearance at the African Nations Championship. History will not be their favour as they failed to progress beyond the quarter final of the competition in Sudan 2011 Chan.

Nicknamed the National Elephants, the Guinean football team is currently ranked 49 on the FIFA World Rankings. The Guinean National team has made 11 appearances at the Africa Cup of Nations with their best ever finish coming in Ethiopia 1976 edition when they were runners up to Morocco. Guinea is making their first appearance at the 2016 African Nations Championship in Rwanda. They will be hoping to cause a few upsets and asset themselves as contenders for this year’s title.