Nigeria’s players attend a training./ AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI
• President, Vice President To Cheer Pirates
As the Super Eagles face the Pirates of Seychelles in the qualification for 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Vitoria this afternoon, veteran coach, Godfery Esu, has challenged the players, particularly the newly invited ones, to use the opportunity and make a name for themselves.
Since winning the AFCON title at South Africa 2013, the Super Eagles have failed to qualify for the championship on two occasions, 2015 and 2017. The team is currently third in the group leading to Cameroun 2019, after losing their first match 0-2 to visiting Bafana Bafana of South Africa in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
Esu told The Guardian yesterday that the position the Super Eagles currently found themselves is worrisome, but expressed optimism that the ticket could still be won saying: “Anything can still happen in football. But my advise for our players, particularly the younger ones, is to seize this opportunity to make a name for themselves. I am happy the coach brought in some young players because this is the time to start re-building for the next World Cup. Those who are featuring in the team for the first time must prove to Nigerians why they merit a place in the national team.”
In the absence of some regular players like Victor Moses, who recently announced his retirement from the team, and team captain, Mikel Obi as well as Alex Iwobi, coach Gernot Rohr has available for selection Francis Uzoho, Ikechukwu Ezenwa and Daniel Akpeyi, Leon Balogun, Kenneth Omeruo, Bryan Idowu, Chidozie Awaziem, Semi Ajayi and Jamilu Collins for today’s match.
Others are Ogenyi Onazi, Wilfred Ndidi, Oghenekaro Etebo, John Ogu, Kelechi Nwakali, Joel Obi, Ahmed Musa, Kelechi Iheanacho, Simeon Nwankwo, Henry Onyekuru, Odion Ighalo and Samuel Kalu.
Meanwhile, the President of the Republic of Seychelles, Danny Faure and the Vice President, Vincent Meriton are among 6,000 spectators that will attend the game at the 10,000–capacity Stade Linite in Victoria this afternoon.The General Secretary of Seychelles Football Federation, Mr. Georges Bibi confirmed yesterday that their number one and number two citizens would be joined at the pre-match formalities by the President of Seychelles Football Federation, Elvis Chetty and the 1st Vice President of Nigeria Football Federation, Barr. Seyi Akinwunmi. The match officials are from Mauritius, Tanzania, Uganda and Kenya. The match will kick off at 4.30pm Seychelles time (1.30pm Nigeria time).