CHAN 2014: Battle of Abidjan
By EMMA NJOKU
Nigeria’s home-based Super Eagles have vowed to put their flesh on the grill to stop the Elephants of Ivory Coast from turning the table, when both teams clash tonight in the decisive leg of the final qualifying fixture for next year’s Africa Nations Championship (CHAN), meant for players plying their trade in the continent’s domestic leagues.
The Nigerian team goes into tonight’s crunchy tie inside the main bowl of the Houphet Boigney Stadium in the city of Abidjan, with 4-1 advantage from the first leg played at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna three weeks ago.
Insinuations were rife that the Nigerian team should expect everything but not hospitality from the Ivorians, given the undisciplined way and manner the Ivorians conducted themselves in the first leg encounter in Kaduna. The team shunned post match Press Conference, apparently to register its anger over the red cards to two of its players.
But defenders, Godfrey Oboabona and Chibuzor Okonkwo had not only vowed to make things difficult for the Elephants tonight, but also declared the Super Eagles’ readiness for anything the Ivorians throw at them.
“We are prepared for war! Whatever they (Ivorians) come with, we are ready for them. Nothing can stop us from going to South Africa next year for the Africa Nations Championship (CHAN)” Enugu Rangers defence ace, Chibuzor Okonkwo vowed in Lagos before the Eagles jetted out to Abidjan.
“We cannot afford not to qualify for the CHAN tournament this time round after missing out in the first two editions of the championship. This is why we are prepared for whatever the Ivorians will throw at us. If it means that we have to spill our blood, we are prepared to do it” the Beijing 2008 Olympics silver medalist added.
Corroborating his teammate, Sunshine Stars Captain, Godfrey Oboabona in a separate chat with Saturday Sunsports said: “We’re aware of what is at stake. The Ivorians need to win 3-0 to stop us from going to South Africa next year but we will make things difficult for them in Abidjan. Our target is to score them first and that way, we would have nailed their coffin.”
Super Eagles’ Coach, Stephen Keshi, who looks to make history as the first coach to qualify Nigeria for the CHAN competition had earlier warned his charges to prepare for war in Abidjan. The former Nigerian captain, who once played professional football in the French-speaking West African nation advised his boys not to get carried away by the 4-1 first leg scores, as today’s return leg is as important as the first leg.