Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi is in confident mood ahead of today’s (Wednesday) crucial 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against South Africa’s Bafana Bafana at the Akwa Ibom International Stadium in Uyo.
The African champions are in second position in Group A of the qualifiers but have to beat the visitors to be sure of defending their title in Equatorial Guinea in January.
The Central African country is the new host of the competition after the Confederation of African
Football withdrew the hosting rights from Morocco.
Group leaders South Africa have qualified for the tournament but
the Eagles are tied on seven points with Congo. They are ahead of the Central Africans on the head-to-head rule. A simple win is all that is thus needed by Nigeria to qualify.
Even though he will be missing the services of key players Hope Akpan and Godfrey Oboabona due to injury and suspension respectively, Keshi is optimistic his side will get the right result to
seal a qualification place for Africa’s showpiece event.
“We’re trying to make everybody comfortable, it’s about self-belief. We’re playing at home in Uyo and (Godswill) Akpabio (Akwa Ibom State Governor) is here. So we have to win. By God’s grace we will laugh last,” Keshi said.
On Akpan, who copped a shoulder injury in Saturday’s 2-0 win over Congo, Keshi added, “We miss him but I have other players who can get the job done. But I would have preferred him to be here.”
The match is billed to kick off at 6pm. The South Africans have said that they will prove very tough nuts to crack, having gone unbeaten in their five qualifiers to date. Eagles and Bafana played a goalless draw in Cape Town on September 10 in the first leg game.
The inspired Shakes Mashaba’s team have also conceded just one goal in their five matches in the qualifying series which came in the 2-1 success against the Sudanese on Saturday.
Even though they conceded a goal, the result was enough to secure them a place in the 2015 finals.
Bafana Bafana midfielder and team captain, Dean Furman, explained what the match in Uyo means to them.
He said, “It’s a huge game, having qualified doesn’t change anything for us, it has major significance every time we go play
Nigeria. It’s going to be a tough game; they will fight for their lives in
an effort to qualify. But we want to fight for our nation, for fans, and