By JACOB AJOM
The Nigeria Football Federation will remain focused and concentrate on preparations for the all important 2014 World Cup qualifier against Malawi despite the seeming distractions from its rival, the Football Association of Malawi.
This was made known to Sunday Vanguard Sports by the first Vice President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Chief Mike Umeh. In a chat with our reporter yesterday, Chief Umeh said recent reports from Blantyre in respect of the Malawi national team “are all propaganda” and should not be taken seriously. “We don’t want to lose concentration because of late, they have put up a lot of propaganda,” Umeh said, pointing out that for a team that had been preparing for a World Cup qualifier for a long time to suddenly say they have no money to travel sounded like a big joke.
“It shows you how determined they are to make us relax. But they will be disappointed because we will remain focused so that when they come we will beat them silly.”
The NFF chieftain said the Super Eagles players are eager to return to Brazil after the FIFA Confederations Cup misadventure.
“Keshi has named a killer squad and the players are eager to return to Brazil because they have an unfinished business there which is the World Cup,” Umeh said, expressing delight in the invitation of Holland based Uche Nwofor whose brace against Bafana Bafana gave Nigeria a 2-0 win over South Africa in the Mandela Challenge. “We expect him to re-enact the form he displayed in South Africa and pray that God give him the grace to do well. He was fantastic in that encounter.”
Umeh assured the Malawi delegation of the best in terms of hospitality. “We are number one in terms of hospitality,” he said, pointing out that “when the Malawi delegation return to their country, they would know that they visited true African brothers.”
Malawi not in Super Eagles class, says James Peters
Nigeria Football Federation assistant technical director James Peters has declared that the Super Eagles are far better, technically speaking, than the Flames of Malawi, their opponents in the September 7 World Cup qualifying match in Calabar.
He argued that based on this he expects the national team coached by Stephen Keshi to steamroll the Malawians and advance to the final stage of the qualifiers.
“The Super Eagles now have more experience than they had during the first leg match against Malawi at Blantyre in June 2012,” Peters said.
NAN reports that Nigeria have nine points and merely need to only avoid defeat to reach the final elimination round, while Malawi need an outright win to advance.
Peters said the experience the Super Eagles’ players got from their recent outings would be an advantage to them.
“Our boys have peaked since the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil and the Mandela Challenge match has added to the team’s strength.
“With the Super Eagles’ present form, they will beat Malawi on their own ground.
“Fortunately for the Malawians, they are coming to Nigeria for this decisive match, and this will save them from that embarrassment,” the former U-20 national team handler said.
“Without mincing words, I am sure the Super Eagles are ready for the match,” he said.
Peters who was also a former assistant Super Eagles coach said the Nigerian side now posed a threat to many of their African counterparts.
“Today, it will be difficult for any African team to beat the Super Eagles of Nigeria. This is because both Brazil and Nigeria produce world-class players more than any other country in the whole world,” Peters said.