By EMMA NJOKU
Ex-international, Dominic Iorfa, says the true strength and character of the Super Eagles at the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa early next year will be determined in the quarterfinal stage. The former Queens Park Rangers of England towering forward predicted that the Stephen Keshi-tutored Nigerian squad would easily scale through the group stage of the tournament.
“Nigeria has always qualified from the group stage at the Nations Cup. I expect the Super Eagles to go through in the group stage at next year’s Africa Cup of Nations,” he predicted in a chat with Saturday Sunsports. “The real test for the Eagles would start from the quarterfinals, when the tournament would have entered its crunch stage. That is when the boys would have been separated from the men. Then, you would expect to meet teams like Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Tunisia and Algeria. “That is not to say that one should underrate any opposition.
There are no more minnows in the game of football. That is why you must respect a team like Cape Verde for stopping Egypt from qualifying for the Nations Cup,” Iorfa reasoned. The Vice Chairman and Technical Adviser of Lobi Stars of Makurdi expressed optimism that Coach Stephen Keshi would select a formidable squad that would do Nigeria proud in South Africa early next year. “I’m sure that Coach Stephen Keshi will select a formidable squad that will do Nigeria proud at the Nations Cup in South Africa.
We have quality players both in the domestic league and in all parts of the world. But I expect that about five players from the domestic league should make the final list of 23 players that will go for the Nations Cup,” he suggested. On what fans of Lobi Stars should expect from the team in the coming season, the former Super Eagles’ fast attacker replied: “Our target is to do better than we did in the immediate past season in which we finished third in the league and runners-up in the Federation Cup.
“We also want to do well in the CAF Confederation Cup competition next year. We want to draw inspiration from Sunshine Stars that reached the semi-finals of this year’s Champions League. Our target is to surpass their feat or, at worst, equal that record in the championship next year. “We have a team that can go all the way in the tournament. We only lost two of our key players last season, David Tyavkase and Jonah Abutu. The rest of the squad is still with us and we have recruited more quality players to beef up the squad.
So, we are ready for the domestic and continental challenges ahead,” Iorfa enthused. On whether he would hire a new technical adviser for the club, the former BCC Lions of Gboko attacking pearl responded thus: “I have no intention to recruit a technical adviser. I have hired all the best coaches in the domestic league and they all failed me. With what we have been able to achieve since I took over the team, I’m positive that we can do better.
“Coaching is not paper work. It is a practical thing. I played football in almost all the continents and I played under some of the best coaches in the world and gained a lot of experience. It is those experiences that I’m drawing from as coach of Lobi Stars today, and I don’t think anybody would say that I’m not doing well with my achievements.
“In fact, my dream is to coach the national team. But I would first want to be challenged with the national Under-23 team, the Dream Team, and I promise that I will deliver,” Iorfa vowed.