*As Onuora says Ethiopia are prepared
BY JOHN EGBOKHAN
Nigeria’s Super Eagles, with their full compliment of foreign-based stars, will tonight at the Abuja National Stadium, play Ethiopia in a match day three of the 2012 African Cup of Nations qualifying series.
The two-time Nations Cup winners, presently trail Guinea with three points in Group B and know that anything short of a win on Sunday, would further dent their chances of qualifying for the tournament being co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon as only one team can qualify from each group.
With Guinea, who have six points from two matches so far played, playing away at Madagascar this weekend, the Eagles have their work cut out for them as they go for a high-scoring win to stand any chance of toppling the Guineans, who are expected to scoop all three points against the tiny ocean country.
Given that Guinea have the easier looking fixture against Madagascar, the Super Eagles will be expected to play an offensive game against Ethiopia, in tonight’s encounter in Abuja. Coach Samson Siasia, a former World Cup striker and Nations Cup winner, is desperate to avoid any slip-up in his first real competitive match in front of an ever-demanding crowd, who though rooted for his appointment as Eagles coach, would not hesitate to turn against him should his team fail to impress against the East African nation, not reputed for their prowess in football but in long distance races.
To achieve his aim, Siasia would be relying on the likes of Dele Aiyenugba in goal, Joseph Yobo, the captain, Osaze Odemwingie in attack and Mikel Obi in midfield to commandeer other players to rail the Ethiopians into submission.
Other players jostling for places in the starting team include Obafemi Martins, Taiye Taiwo, Victor Nsofor, Ikechukwu Uche, Kalu Uche, Joel Obi, Ekigho Ehiosun and Ahmed Musa.
Speaking on his plans for the game, Siasia said that he wants his players to be use the wings more frequently than they used to do in their previous games. He also talked about seeing a team where everybody work for the good of the other.
He also assured Nigerians that they would have every reason to smile at the end of the game, insisting that his rebuilding process for the national team was yielding fruitful results.
“This is one match that Nigerians expect us to win and we are not going to let down because they are the reason why we are playing. We are playing for the fans, who I promise would be smiling all the way at the end of the game”, said Siasia.
On his part, Nigerian-born Ethiopian coach, Ify Onuora, said that he expected a tough tie against the Eagles, noting that his side are adequately primed for tonight’s daunting task.
“We have been preparing for this game against Nigeria and its going to be tough”, he said.
Also speaking, Eagles goalkeeper coach, Ike Shorunmu said that the team was under pressure to win but noted that they were not being weighed down by the high expectations from Nigerian fans.