Nigeria forward Peter Odemwingie believes that his side has a psychological edge over Mozambique heading into their final group match at the African Nations Cup today.
The Eagles, who are currently second in Pool B, must win or draw the game in Lubango to secure qualification as defeat, coupled by a victory for Benin, would bring both chasing teams into the mix. But the Lokomotiv Moscow frontman insists his side has the edge for a third meeting with the Mambas in less than a year.
The previous two came during the qualifying campaign for the tournament, when Nigeria beat them at home and then drew away from home. Odemwingie said: â€œWe know Mozambique now and have a psychological edge going into that match.
â€œWe got a draw in Maputo and beat them in Abuja. We are emotionally stable now and should go into that match with some belief that we are capable of claiming the points.â€ His comments regarding emotions came after he conceded that Nigerian heads had dropped severely following their opening match loss to the Pharaohs, in which they took the lead only to succumb 3-1.
He added: â€œOur confidence took a bash after the loss to Egypt. But now we believe we can go all the way. â€œWe have the potential to make an impact here in Angola. We still believe we have the capacity and the players to win this competition.â€
Despite Nigeria’s turn of fortunes, the west Africans have been dealt a major blow heading into the game after it emerged that captain Joseph Yobo had reportedly sustained a recurrence of an ankle injury that plagued his fitness in the build-up to the competition.
His absence could see Onyekachi Apam step in, while there could also be a recall for Obafemi Martins.
The Mozambicans are equally optimistic of their chances and coach Mart Nooij knows it is a straightforward scenario for his troops.
He said: â€œWe still have a chance to qualify for the quarter-final. If we beat Nigeria, we will reach the quarter-final.â€
The Dutchman is also hoping his side can build on their performances thus far that have yielded little result â€” they drew 2-2 with Benin and then lost 2-0 to Egypt.
He added: â€œMozambique are here to show that we exist in international football after 12 years out of the competition.
â€œThe world has now seen that we play football in Mozambique and against Nigeria, we will again show what we are capable of on the pitch.â€