S’Eagles Set To Deem Taifa Stars | Independent Newspapers Limited
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S’Eagles Set To Deem Taifa Stars

Posted: Sep 5, 2015 at 12:37 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Augustine Akhilomen


The Super Eagles’ hope of recording a second straight victory in its bid to brighten its chance of topping Group G of the ongoing 2017 Africa Nations Cup qualifying series would be put to the test against Taifa Stars of Tanzania in Dar es Salaam today.

Having defeated Chad 2-0 at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna in June during match-day 1, Nigeria must avoid an upset against a Tanzanian side that is hoping to bounce back to winning ways after losing its first match 3-0 to table-topper, Egypt in Cairo.

Super Eagles will be playing under a new coach, Sunday Oliseh, after erstwhile manager, Stephen Keshi, was sacked by the Nigeria Football Federation.

It will be Oliseh’s first competitive match and an opportunity for him to prove critics wrong after he was accused of lacking national team coaching experience.

Oliseh will be banking on the trio of Emmanuel Emenike, Ahmed Musa and Anthony Ujah to wreck Tanzania’s dream of appearing at the Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon, however, Eagles will miss the services of its captain, Vincent Enyeama, who withdrew from the encounter due to the death of his mother, and Joel Obi as a result of injury.

Ogenyi Onazi will also miss the match due to the red card he bagged in the team’s 2-0 win over Chad.

The absence of Enyeama from the team is a big loss considering his wealth of experience.

However, in his absence, the trio of Carl Ikeme, Ikechukwu Ezenwa and Femi Thomas present a good alternative for the coach.

Ranked 53rd as against Tanzania’s 140th in the August FIFA ranking, the three-time Africa champions, on paper, is expected to pick the maximum points.

This is even as the host will bank on their home support to pull the rug off the feet of their more fancied opponents.

To win the Super Eagles, Coach Boniface Mkwasa, will be banking on the experience of TP Mazembe forward, Mbwana Samatta.

The 23-year old is known for his tireless works on the field and amazing dribbling skills.

The first ever meeting between both countries was on July 6 1972 in Dar es Salaam. The encounter ended goalless. Four months later, the Green Eagles beat Taifa Stars in two quick friendlies – 2-1 and 3-2 – in Benin City and Lagos respectively, and then achieved another 2-1 win over the Taifa Stars during the second All Africa Games, which Nigeria hosted in January 1973.

In February 1976, both countries played out a 0-0 draw in a friendly in Dar es Salaam on the Green Eagles’ road to Ethiopia for the Africa Cup of Nations that year.

And in March 1980 in Nigeria, the former African champions won the opening match of that year’s Africa Cup of Nations (for which the team eventually emerged champions) 3-1 in Lagos.

However, Super Eagles coach, Oliseh, has insisted that the team has no choice but to pick the maximum points in Dar es Salaam today.

“The match in Dar es Salaam is very, very crucial, not only because it will be my first match as head coach, but also because we have no choice than to win. The three points are important for us to keep up the tempo in our group.

“We are on the same three points with Egypt, though the team has scored a goal more. That is why we cannot afford any slip along the way. There is a lot of work. After these matches, we will now start working towards the two Africa Cup of Nations qualifying matches we have with the Pharaohs (of Egypt) in March next year.”

In the same vein, ex international, Henry Nwosu, has advised the Oliseh to prepare adequately to enable it pick the maximum points in the East African country.

“I have no doubt that Nigeria will pick the maximum points in Tanzania but there is the need for the team to remain focused ahead of the match.

“Because this is the first match to be handled by Oliseh since his appointment, I expect him to approach it with all seriousness because anything in the contrary will affect the country’s qualification for Gabon 2017,” said the former New Nigeria Bank of Benin player.

Meanwhile, Mkwasa, has said that the Stars would be targeting a win.

“We know we have a very big game coming up against Nigeria. We respect Nigeria, we are a small team when compared to Nigeria because we look like the underdog,” Mkwasa said.

“But as we all know in football, anything can happen. So we are looking forward to winning the game because we believe we can achieve it and we are preparing towards that.”

The coach also recalled the last time he faced Nigeria as a player in a World Cup qualifier inside the National Stadium in Lagos, saying: “We held Nigeria to a 1-1 draw. It was a good result for us because the expectation was that we would be beaten silly by the Eagles. This gives me the additional confidence that meeting them as a coach now, I should not be afraid”.