Kenya’s ambitious Harambee Stars flew into Lagos on Wednesday afternoon hoping they would not be too much of a mincemeat for African champions Nigeria in Saturday’s 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifying match in Calabar.
A delegation of 20 players and 11 officials slept over in Lagos before flying into Calabar today, to be accommodated at Channel View Hotel.
However, the Kenyans were not happy that they had to spend the night in Lagos having thought they would be given a chartered flight by the Nigeria Football Federation to fly to Calabar immediately.
“They have put us in a two star hotel here in Lagos but we don’t mind since it is just one night and then we leave for Calabar. We are trying to prevail upon them to give us a training ground,” an official, identified as Hussein told Goal.com.
He said the weather was very hot and this may affect the Kenyans especially coming from cooler Nairobi.
The supercharged Nigerians, with a full house training in CanaanCity for the showdown, believe they have all going for them as they file out against a side that has never beaten them.
Nigeria and Kenya have clashed at senior level 13 times previously, with Nigeria coming out tops in 11 of them, the remaining two drawn.
Their first-ever meeting was on May 8, 1968 when the Nigerians, on the way from an Olympic Games qualifying match in Ethiopia, stopped by in Nairobi for a friendly and inflicted a 2-1 defeat on their hosts.
Another friendly in Nairobi eight years later ended 1-1, but in August 1981, Nigeria won yet another friendly in Nairobi 3-1 with goals from Henry Nwosu, Ifeanyi Onyedika and Emmanuel Osigwe.
Fatai Amoo and Rashidi Yekini (of blessed memory) scored in a 3-0 defeat of the Harambee Stars in a World Cup qualifier in Nairobi in April, 1985 with the Eagles completing the rout 3-1 in Lagos two weeks later.
Left out of the squad to the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa, and therefore with a point to prove, the much-traveled marksman is raring to go goals-wire if fielded.
Harambee Stars will remember Martins with pain in their hearts as he pumped in two of those goals in Nairobi in November 2009. Given to brace accomplishments in World Cup qualifiers, Martins also hit double in 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Algeria in Oran and Zimbabwe in Abuja, and even in his first competitive match for Nigeria – a 2-0 defeat of Rwanda in Abuja in June 2004.
There are also Cup of Nations’ hero Sunday Mba, the pacy Ahmed Musa and Ukraine-based newcomer Michael Babatunde with so much to prove.
The elegant Victor Moses, who shocked Africa with the way he easily adjusted to the African game in his very first tournament, in South Africa, will once more be cynosure of all eyes at the U.J.Esuene Stadium, where he scored a brace against Liberia’s Lone Star in a Cup of Nations qualifier in November last year.
Hard-as-nails enforcer Fegor Ogude and the unflappable John Mikel Obi are set to compound the situation for the Harambee Stars on Saturday evening.