THE Moshood Abiola Stadium Sports Stadium in Abuja will be set ablaze today when the Black Galaxies of Ghana line up against the CHAN Eagles of Nigeria in the second leg final qualifier for the 2023 Championship of African Nations (CHAN) tournament.
This will be the first time the Eagles will be playing at the Abiola Stadium since the Black Stars drew 1-1 with the Super Eagles, denying Nigeria a ticket to the Qatar World Cup.
Ghana carries an enormous two-goal advantage into Abuja with the hope of protecting it jealously to seal qualification to the second tier Nations Cup tournament on the continent.
Galaxies head coach Daniel Annor Walker is very expectant of a fierce battle on the field of play coupled with a hostile crowd backing the host, but he says his side is very ready for a “do or die” affair.
“Even in Cape Coast last week, it was not an easy game at all until mother luck smiled on us to beat Nigeria 2-0 and I know the same thing would unfold in Nigeria today.”
Coach Walker told Times Sports, this game is one of the most important games in his entire coaching career and he together with his assistants have worked on the players both physically and psychologically to grind the needed qualification results.
The Nigerians would come in hard at us in the opening exchanges to try and get goals and cancel the goals from Cape Coast, but we would have a nice package for them.
Although coach Walker revealed that he does not dread any threat in the Nigerian attack, having seen the way they played in Cape Coast, he will nonetheless, strategise well for any eventuality that would try to play on them today.
“We are going into this game on a clean note. To me and my boys, there is no first leg; all we know is that this is what is qualifying Ghana to CHAN next year – and we would use this game to atone for our absence from the tournament after the 2014 edition.”
After succumbing to the Black Galaxies, the CHAN Eagles of Nigeria are seeking to wipe away a national disaster off the faces of Nigerians when they welcome the Ghanaians onto their soil and for Eagles coach, Salisu Yusuf, nothing short of qualification would make meaning to the expectant Nigerians.
He says the team has moved on from the Cape Coast defeat with renewed determination to qualify for Algeria 2023, and that his side may not see radical changes from the line-up that featured in the first leg except for Sadiq Abubakar, who has not recovered fully from the injury suffered in the first leg.
“We have an idea where they have strength as a team, and we will seek to exploit that to our advantage. Football is a 90 minutes game, and we must look to overturn the two goals we conceded. The team needs to work even harder than we did in the short time we had to prepare for this game. We have to turn things around in today,” Yusuf assured.
All hands are being placed on deck to make sure qualification is secured at all cost, and to this end, the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) has brought on board the Super Eagles head coach, Jose Peseiro, to support coach Yusuf to positively turn around the story.
The euphoria surrounding this game, however, is somewhat low among Nigerian soccer fans, who feel very disappointed at the NFA for missing out on the Qatar World Cup.
There is serious tension among the NFA executive led bb its President Pinnick Melvin Amaju, who believes losing to another Ghanaian side and denying Nigeria qualification again to a tournament, would be a huge dent on his legacy.
BY RAYMOND ACKUMEY