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Lawal, Babangida, Akwegbu predict tough AFCON campaign for Eagles

The road to the 2017 AFCON will be rough for Nigeria as they will battle the Pharaohs of Egypt, Chad and Tanzania in Group G for a place at the 2017 AFCON to be staged by Gabon in 2017.

Only the eventual group leaders are guaranteed automatic qualification for Gabon.

Tijani Babangida
Tijani Babangida

They open the qualifying campaign in the second week of June at home against Chad.

Egypt have won the tournament a record seven times, but they have failed to qualify for the last three editions.

They have clashed with Nigeria 17 times at full international level with the Pharaohs winning six and drawing six of these meetings. Egypt beat the Eagles 3-2 in their last clash in April 2012.

“Egypt will always be a great team. They have had their problems partly because of the political situation affecting the country. They appear to be overcoming these problems and will push Nigeria for top spot,” said former Eagles star Garba Lawal.

“Both Tanzania and Chad will not be pushovers as every country now knows how to play football.

“We can’t afford to play for one of the ‘second-best’ spots. We have to top this group and as such we have to be fully prepared for a battle.”

Nigeria caretaker coach Daniel Amokachi simply said: “By his grace, we will qualify for AFCON 2017 from this group.”

One-time Eagles winger Tijani Babangida further said: “No matter what, Nigeria are ahead of all the teams in our group.

“If the coaches select the best players with good technical inputs, we will definitely qualify.

“Daniel Amokachi is there now as coach, let him and the NFF be on same page so there won’t be problems like we had in the last two friendly matches, where the coach in charge said he didn’t invite the players.”’

“He knows the players well, he should be on the same page with the NFF because the coaches are always to blame when things go bad.”

Another ex-Eagles star Benedict Akwuegbu said the coaching vacancy in the present team has to be resolved soon so that focus will be on the first qualifier in June.

“Eagles coaching appointment saga must be resolved in time so that preparations for the qualifying games will not be affected. Nigerians can’t afford not to be at the next AFCON 2017. All the same, we should still qualify,” he told

The Super Eagles have been drawn alongside Egypt in a tough qualification group for AFCON 2017.

All the fears of Nigeria not making it to two AFCONs in a row will now be amplified after being put in a group with seven-times winners of the tournament. The Super Eagles have won it three times with their latest victory coming in 2013. There has, however, been a backlash after Stephen Keshi’s side did not make it to the event in 2015 and have struggled with form recently.

The Super Eagles two other oponents in Group G will be Tanzania and Chad. Only the winners of each group will make it to the tournament in Gabon with the two best runners-up also making the cut.

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