•Eagles chorus as they tackle Black Stars

By Tony Ubani
SUPER Eagles coach, Shaibu Amodu,  and his army of Eagles vowed, yesterday, to dislodge neighbours Ghana and fly into the final of the Orange African Cup of Nations. Battles between the two countries have been fierce and today’s own will not be an exception. One interesting aspect to the epic clash would be the young players of Ghana and the star-studded Eagles.

HEAD WORK ••• Emmanuel Mayuka of Zambia (R) heads into Nigeria's vital area during their quater-final match at the African Cup of Nations CAN2010 at the Tundavala stadium in Lubango, Angola, on January 25, 2010. Nigeria won 5-4 on penalties. Photo: AFP.

Amodu closed his eyes to inviting younger players who would gain experience and play in the World Cup in South Africa. Instead, he relied on already-made stars for quick results. The Ghanaian youngsters have shown vim and vitality in the tournament and have grown in confidence from one match to another. Amodu confessed yesterday:

“They have some exciting players, most of whom played at the U-20 World Cup, and those players are still hungry to achieve more.” But if you look at our side, we also have some youngsters who have gained experience and are now equal to the task”.

And from Osaze Odemwingie to Obafemi Martins, Mikel Obi, Chinedu Ogbuke-Obasi and  goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, the sing-song is that Ghana cannot stop the march of the Eagles to final. “We respect the Ghanaians but I think that we have reached a point of no return. We are in good shape to add them to our victims”, Osaze said.

“We are an ambitious team and we make no pretence about that. My boys want to go in there and win the trophy and technical officials including myself also want to get our hands on the trophy. So, we are fully focussed on the assignment.

“Ghana is a very strong team and of course, when it comes to a match against Nigeria they always prove difficult, very difficult. But the Super Eagles know what is at stake and are ready to give whatever it will take to earn a ticket to the final”, said Amodu.

Eagles last triumph against the Chipolopolo of Zambia on penalties has heightened fears that a team with two or three good marksmen can wreck the Eagles. But Amodu said that he has plugged all loopholes and would not allow Ghana to toss the Eagles around. But Ghana coach Milovan Rajevac believes that his young lads have proved themselves and can stand the pressure against Nigeria without their Chelsea inspirational player, Michael Essien.

Both countries have met six times at the Cup of Nations, with Nigeria winning three times, Ghana twice and one draw. The only draw was in 1978 when Ghana hosted. Nigeria won 2-1 in Bouake, Cote d’Ivoire in 1984 and 1-0 in Bamako (Mali 2002) and Port Said (Egypt 2006). But Ghana edged their meetings in Zinguichor (Senegal 1992) and Accra (Ghana 2008).

The 51-year old Amodu, the only indigenous coach to have qualified Nigeria for the World Cup (on two occasions), will be only the 10th African coach to lift the African Nations Cup in its 53 -year existence if the Eagles win.


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