Nigeria’s players celebrate after scoring a goal during the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying football match between Nigeria and Cameroon at Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo, southern Nigeria, on September 1, 2017. PIUS UTOMI EKPEI / AFP
Nigeria’s’ quest to qualify for the final game of the on-going WAFU Cup will meet a familiar foe when they confront Benin Republic in one of the semifinals of the championship.
The Eagles defeated home team, Ghana 2-0 to berth into the last four, where they will meet with the Squirrels barely two months after beating the same foes 2-1 on aggregate to qualify for next year’s African Nations Championship (CHAN). The Beninoise defeated Niger Republic 2-1 to win Group B and a place in today’s semifinals.
The Super Eagles are the only remaining team in this championship that has not conceded any goal in their three matches. Speaking on today’s game, one of the stars of the Eagles’ victory over Ghana, Anthony Okpotu said Monday’s win has boosted their confidence ahead of the semifinals, adding that football fans will see the real Nigerian team in the game against Benin Republic.
“We never doubted our ability to face the rest of West Africa here, but we were getting anxious when we could not win early in the competition,” Akpotu told a Ghanaian website. “Now, that we have overcome that problem, we will now march on to the trophy.”
The Lobi Stars’ forward has been tipped by many for great things in this competition, but he is not carried away by the accolades he has received so far. “Football is a team game and we cannot win without the efforts of every member of the team. I want to say that the determination shown by every player in the team has convinced me that we will beat Benin Republic again.
“It is a great feeling scoring in the national team jersey. I am happy to have finally opened my goals account for my country,” he said.To Ubong Friday, who is one of the midfielders piloting the Eagles from the midfield, having come thus far the players now know that the trophy is within reach.
“I wish to state here that we have not come to Ghana to just to take part in the championship, but to do our assignment properly and bring the trophy back to Nigeria… this has been our target since the start of the competition,” he told SCORENigeria after the victory over Ghana.
Winning the game at the Cape Coast Stadium will give the Eagles the opportunity to vie for the $100,000 prize money, which the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has promised to leave for the team to share.