It's the international break once again, and players from all over the world will be traveling home to answer a call for national duty and to represent their various national teams. Over here in Africa, it's gonna be a thrilling showdown of brain and brawn, as African teams march against each other to secure a spot in the 2019 tournament. It's the biggest tournament on the Continent, and has serve as a source of pride for any country that emerges victorious.
The Boys in green prides themselves as one of the football powerhouse of Africa, but have only been able to lay their hands on the Nation's trophy three times. Nigeria's first win of the tournament came in 1980, when the country hosted the competition. The Eagles haven't been domineering in the continental title, as they had to wait 14 years later before they could lay their hands on the trophy in 1994, which was hosted by Tunisia.
Though Nigeria remains a force to reckon with in the continental football, they had to endure almost two decades later before they could win the tournament again, and that was hosted in Nelson Mandel's Country. They have also been runners-up four times in the competition, three of which was against one of their top rivals Cameroon (1984, 1988 and 2000). The Nigerian National side has also finished in third place Seven times, this goes a long way to show how tough this tournament is.
Nigerian's exploits in football stretches beyond the borders of the Continent, as the country remains Africa's biggest exporter of soccer talents to Europe and other continents. The country's football golden era dates by to the 90s. After the country had won the 1994 Continental Cup, they went on to make their World Cup debut that same year and left an impression, as the team reached the knockout stage. And then in 1996, they went all the way to grab the Olympic Medal at Atlanta.
Road To Cameroon-2019, "Group E" Analysis.
The Nigeria contingents are in "Group E" of The Competition's qualifying rounds. The group also plays host to the South Africa (The first and only African country that have hosted the World Cup, 2010), Libya and The Pirates of Seychelles. The four countries have all played their two games so far and eleven(11) goals have been scored by the group.
The group sees Libya currently sitting at the top of the table with four(4) points from two games. The Libyan side is taking this upcoming continental soccer tournament in Cameroon very serious and looks very threatening this time around. The team has stubbornly refused to be defeated in their last two qualifying games.
Though Libya is the only North African country that is yet to qualify for the World Cup, the team have featured three times in the continental Cup (1982, 2006 and 2012). In their first game at home against Seychelles, they cruised to a comfortable 5-1 win over their visitors. Their second game saw them play a goalless draw with South Africa.
Also sitting second on the Group table is the Mandela boys. They are already showing their eagerness to qualify for "Cameroon 2019," and it's not been bad for them so far. With four(4) points from two games already, they have scored two(2) goals so far, and that was against the Nigeria. They later went on to get a draw against the table leaders Libya. They are not too new to the tournament, as they were the champions in 1996. Their next game will be against Seychelles, and they are hopeful their generous opponent will allow them get away with three points.
Seychelles at the other end appears to be the sacrificial lamb of the group, as they have lost their first two games already to both Libya and Nigeria Consecutively. The "Pirates" as they are nicknamed, lost 5-1 to the masterful Libyan side, and also lost 3-0 to the sharp claws of the Eagles. The possibility of them qualifying from the group is very slim, as they are currently fourth place in the group with no point.
Are The Eagles Ready For The Clash Against Libya?
The Super Eagles of Nigeria will be hosting the resilient Mediterranean Knights on Saturday, as they continue to fight for a spot in African Cup Of Nations in Cameroon next year. The Eagles had a rather sluggish start to their campaign, as they were beaten 2-0 by the Bafana Bafana. However, their 3-0 away win over the group's underdog Seychelles at Stade Linite in Victoria, has added light to their dark start.
The Victory Seychelles ensured that The Eagles grabbed their first three(3) points in two Matches, therefore living them in third place on the table ahead of their Saturday clash with the Group Leaders. The Nigeria Team had a rollercoaster ride against Seychelles, as they dominated the game all through. The first goal came from Ahmed Musa's left-footed Volley, which rebounded under the crossbar before bouncing of the Seychelles goalkeeper into the post. That was just 15 minutes into the game. And later, added two more goals to kill off their host.
The match on Saturday against Libya is scheduled to be played in the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo, Akwa-Ibom state. However, the Nigerian squad will be without their two regular players, Mikel Obi and Victor Moses. Am not certain about the reason for Mikel's absence in the squad, but we all know the Victor Moses has resigned from international duty after having bad world cup display in Russia.
This is a must win match for the Eagles if they must keep their hope alive in the group. Nigerians understand the importance of this match as no excuse will be able to Pacific the fans if the country gets defeated by Libya. The Country have failed to qualify for the last two editions of the tournament, and this will not be accepted with an ovation the third time.
The squad have started arriving Uyo ahead of their clash on Saturday. The stand-in captain Ahmed Musa, and lots of others have already arrived, and have joined the party at The Ibom Meridien Hotels and Resort. Other players and the goalkeepers have also joined the camp. It was rumored in the media that the team was suppose to have their first training session on Tuesday, but it seems it did not hold.
Also, the delegates from Gaddafi's country are also expected to touchdown at The Ibom International Airport On Thursday, while Friday will witness the arrival the match officials. It's gonna be a thrilling game as Libya have always been a hard but to crack for Nigeria. They are currently in form and are ready to go for the win on Saturday against the Eagles.