By John Egbokhan
Despite the growing wave of pessimism being expressed by Nigerians and the untidy way that their preparations have been handled,Â the Eagles squad have resolved to rise above the tide of gloom by prosecuting a superb World Cup outing in South Africa.
As they prepare to meet President Goodluck Jonathan, inside the Congress Hall of the Transcorp Hilton Hotel, AbujaÂ tomorrow evening, the national team, who are making a return to the World Cup after missing the 2006 version in Germany, are already in town waiting to get a befitting send-forth present from the nationâ€™s number one citizen and other captains of industry, who would all gather to wish the team all the luck that they need to shine in the Rainbow Nation.
Ahead of Saturday’s departure to the United Kingdom on a 10-day training, which would see them play Saudi Arabia on May 25 in Austria and Colombia in London on May 30, team skipper, Nwankwo Kanu, his deputy, Joseph Yobo have not stopped believing in the quality that abounds in coach Lars Lagerbackâ€™s preliminary 30-man list, which would still be pruned down to the final 23-man squad after the match against World Cup-bound Colombia. Colombia would provide the Super Eagles, theÂ real test that Lagerback would be needing in picking his final team.
Former captain, Austin Okocha, yesterday joined the fray with his own word of advice. â€œThe onus is on the players to do well. They have what it takes to rise to the occasionâ€, Okocha said.
Speaking upon hitting Abuja from his base, Kanu, who was only last night offered a new deal to stay with relegated Portsmouth, said that self-belief was pivotal in helping Nigeria surpass its best finish at the World Cup, the second round when push comes to shove in South Africa.
He reasoned that playing on an African soil was also going to act as a catalyst for Eagles to soar above all obstacles that they would come up against them.
Adding voice to his commanderâ€™s verdict, Everton centre-back, Joseph Yobo, said that the team was well on course to make up for the disappointing showing at the last appearance at the World Cup in 2002 and also their most recent outing at the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations in Angola.
â€œWe have learnt our lessons from our past mistakes and we want to do well and surprise Nigerians with a performance that would thrill them and make them proud of us againâ€, said Yobo.