By Patrick Omorodion with Agency report
AS the 2010 Africa Nations Cup draw conducted in Angola Friday pitched the Super Eagles against defending champions, Egypt, Mozambique and Benin Republic in Group C, Chief Coach Shaibu Amodu and ex captainof the team, Sunday Oliseh have warnedÂ on the toughness of the opposition expected at the event.
While coach Amodu preferred to be cautiously optimistic, Oliseh who captained the team to the Mali 2002 Africa Nations Cup but missed out of the 2002 Korea/Japan World Cup warned that the Mambas of Mozambique, who the Eagles barely survived in the 2010 World Cup qualifiers could be very stubborn.
Apart from Egypt and Mozambique, Amodu will also line out his wards against neighbours, Benin Republic who stretched the Eagles at the 2004 Nations Cup before falling 2-1 in a second round match played in the Tunisian city of Sfax.
The Eagles, who captain Nwankwo Kanu has advised need early preparation to make a respectable impact at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, will play their opening game in the Angolan city of Benguela against Egypt on January 12, 2010.
CoachÂ Amodu who is yet to know his fate with the team with respect to the World Cup told the BBC shortly after the draws that on paper, the Eagles could emerge from the group but cautioned that â€œThere are no small teams in football any more.â€
Oliseh, who wonâ€™t forget in a hurry how he was denied playing at the 2002 World Cup in Korea/Japan, described the Eaglesâ€™ group as a â€œdelicateâ€ one.
â€œMozambique gave us a lot of hassles during the qualifiersâ€ he said, as he also thanked them for helping Nigeria qualify for the World Cup.
It would be recalled that the Mambas tutored by Mart Nooij scored a lone goal against Tunisia in the final qualifying game which helped to put Nigeria through to South Africa 2010.
Meanwhile Mozambiqueâ€™s most capped player and record goal scorer Tico-Tico said he thought it was a tough draw for his side.
â€œWeâ€™ll just have to compete and see what happensâ€ he said, adding, â€œEgypt are the champions of Africa, so that wonâ€™t be easy but if we believe in ourselves maybe we can spring some surprises. Nigeria and Egypt would seem the obvious teams to qualify but anything can happen.â€
Host Angola will have the task of checking Stephen Keshiâ€™s Mali in the opening game of the tournament in Luanda which hosts Group A also comprising Algeria and Malawi even as former Angolan football legend, FabriceÂ Akwa said he thought all the groups looked difficult.
â€œItâ€™s not just Algeria and Angola that could go through, Mali have a good national team and they can give us a lot of problemsâ€ he said.
However, when asked how far Angola can go, he said â€œI believe we can reach the finalâ€.
Group B playing in Cabinda, north of the country, is being touted as the group of death with the prospect of Ghana and Ivory Coast renewing their rivalry. The group also has Emmanuel Adebayorâ€™s Togo and Burkina Faso.
The Chairman of Ghanaâ€™s Footbal Association said â€œthere is no better description of this groupâ€.
â€œIvory Coast and Ghana are two of the best teams in Africaâ€.
â€œThe group is interesting because Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Togo are all our neighboursâ€.
â€œTogo has Adebayor, one of the best players in the world, and Burkina Fasoâ€™s Moumouni Dagano is the top scorer of the World Cup qualifying campaign,â€ he said.
However history favours Ghana as theyâ€™ve met seven times and the Ivorians have won just one of those encounters.
In Group D are the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, Tunisia, Gabon and Zambia, a group former Cameroon striker Patrick Mboma has said will be no pushover either.
â€œWeâ€™ve only recently seen what Gabon can doâ€ he said, however predicting that the Indomitable Lions would reach the semi-finals, after which anything can happen.
â€œWe have a new Indomitable Lions, a new captain, a new coach and hopefully a new reality, and I hope we can start the new year in the best way,â€ he said.