By Philips Adefioye
The hotel saga which has created a lot of shortcomings in the Super Eagles preparation for the first World Cup on African soil next month should not stop the Eagles from excelling at the Mundial as pressure will be on Diego Maradonaâ€™s Argentina, Victor Ikpeba has said.
The former African footballer of the year who spoke with Sunday Vanguard sports exclusively said that the hotel issue has been solved and should not hinder the Eagles in any way.
Ikpeba said the country has a good technical adviser in Lars LagerbackÂ who is not only an experienced man but also a good manager on and off the pitch and has proved it at the World Cup before.
â€œThe hotel problem is now a thing of the past. I have that feeling with the situation on ground, he(Lagerback) is even rushing his programme in order to have success at the first ever World Cup to be hosted on the African continent.
â€œI think he will use his wealth of experience as a World Cup coach to solve the situation on ground, he will not take any thing for granted in this stage because time is not on our side.
This is the moment of truth, the Eagles are traveling to London at least for ten days to strategise their plans and workout on the players fitness.
I know that the players are looking forward to the World Cup and I am sure their mind is focused. I believe the final 23 players that will be selected at the end of the camping will do this country proud if they concentrate despite the late preparation,â€ Ikpeba, fondly called Prince of Monaco, said.
He pointed out that there was no difference between the present squad and that ofÂ Shaibu Amodu, ading that the non inclusion of Rabiu Ibrahim, Emmanuel Ekpo and others who are playing well in Europe was a rude shock which made him to have an element of doubt on the coach earlier .
â€œI was shocked that a promising player like Rabiu Ibrahim was not given any chance to prove his worth. The players taken to London are still Amoduâ€™s boys. Lagerback has to apply another formation that will convince Nigerians during the training in London and after the three friendly matches against Saudi Arabia, Colombia and North Korea before we can know how far they will go,â€ he said.
He stressed that what the Swede coach could do was to use the same strategy he used at the Korea/Japan 2002 World Cup against Nigeria, Argentina and England in South Africa.
Concerning the opening match against Argentina on June 12,Â the Atlanta â€˜96 Olympic gold medalist explained that Nigeria should not be scared of Argentina because the pressure will be on the South Americans the whole world is expecting much from them owing to the caliber of players in their team.
â€œThe pressure should be more on the Argentines than Nigeria. If you have to look at the rivalry between Nigeria and Argentina at the cadet level even to the senior World Cup, it has always been a very close encounter.
They will be coming to play against the Super Eagles with a lot of respect, we played them in Atlanta â€˜96 Olympic football final, at theÂ USA â€˜94 World Cup, Under-20 World Youth Championship in Holland in 2005, the Korea/Japan 2002 World Cup and the Beijing Olympic football final in China in 2008,â€ Ikpeba recalled..