OPTIMISTIC Shaibu Amodu has talked about the high hopes of his Eagles reigning supreme at the Nations Cup in Angola and even vowed that â€œIâ€™ll surprise people at the end of the tournamentâ€.
The coach led out his army to Durban, South Africa, where they would train for one week before moving over to Angola where hostilities would see the Eagles square up against defending champions, Egyptian Pharaohs and six-time champions on January 12.
â€œThat match will go a long way in putting things right for us. The Egyptians as defending champions will come out smoking but we will match them grit for gritâ€, he said. The Pharaohs have lost inspirational playmaker, Mohammed Aboutrika, to injuries but Amodu said that he was not the cause of his optimism. “Ãnjury is part of the game and I feel sorry for him. But with or without him, I have a squad that can cause upsets and go all the way to the final. I have raised the confidence of the team and they are equal to the task ahead.â€
Amodu has come under severe criticisms after he named a squad of 24 excluding Femi Ajilore and Olubayo Adefemi , the duo that so many coaches believed should have been included in the team.
â€œThere is no how that all players will have a place in the team. But what I have chosen for Nigeria is the best squad capable of bringing the cup back home. Any player who finds his name in the squad got there by meritâ€, he insisted even as former national skipper and coach, Christian Chukwu, said that he was baffled at the exclusion of the two players.
â€œHe knows better but ordinarily, I think that those two players have played themselves into contention to merit a place in the national squadâ€, Chukwu who led Eagles to a bronze outing in Tunisia after captaining Nigeriaâ€™s first squad to win the trophy in 1980 said.