By Ben Efe
Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi has hinted that his team will give nothing away in terms of tactical approach to today’s high-wire World Cup qualification match between Nigeria and Ethiopia in Addis Ababa.
The Ethiopians are known for their sleek passing game and untiring runs and propped up by home support and favourable climatic conditions, they are hoping to bring down the African champions and put one leg in Brazil 2014. However, Keshi stated before departure yesterday in Abuja, they have plans to keep the Ethiopians from dominating the game.
“We have our game plans. And as long as we don’t lose the match that will be Ok for us. We just have to keep calm, no matter how they are going to provoke us we have to concentrate. My players’ expressions on their faces will tell you how high their spirits are for this game. We will see what happens,” said Keshi.
Nigeria Football Federation technical department director, Emmanuel Ikpeme also spoke in the same vein.
“It is going to be a highly tactical game. But I don’t see the Ethiopians having an edge over us. Our players are good and you can’t take it away from them,” he said.
Meanwhile Ethiopian coach, Sewnet Bishaw stated that he has studied the videos of the Nigerian game against Kenya and Malawi and has an antidote to stop the Super Eagles from spoiling the day for his team.
“I have analyzed video clips for Nigeria playing both Kenya and Malawi and I can tell you we have changed our plans as I put my cards close to my chest.
“I believe we have had good preparations. I will conduct the last training session and let the boys relax ahead of the big game.”
On paper the Eagles are favourites to triumph over the two leg encounter, but an upset in Addis Ababa will certainly put the Super Eagles on a tightrope. So far their qualification campaign has been devoid of the uncertainty that usually surrounds the Eagles in their quest for international glory in past encounters.
Nigeria have lost to Ethiopia only once, a 1-0 win in 1993. It was during the qualification play off for the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations. On the other hand, Nigeria have had the most of the East Africans, winning five times in seven encounters.
The only drawn gameis the 2-2 draw the Eagles played against Ethiopia in 2011 during the qualifiers for the 2012 Nations Cup. The Eagles failed to make it to the Nations Cup that year.