The dice is cast today as Nigeria battle Zambia for a ticket to play in the 2018 FIFA World Cup, with Coach Gernot Rohr revealing what his troops must do to achieve victory here at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo.
The stakes are indeed high as Eagles and Chipolopolo clash in an high-octane match that will see Uyo fans empty into the Nest of Champions stadium, cheering their team to score goals that will ensure their passage to the next World Cup in Russia.
Speaking, perhaps. for the last time before the game that starts at 5pm Nigerian time, Rohr dissected the Zambian side and revealed interesting information on what his charges will be doing to get one over their dreaded foes, who have been boastful in the weeks and days leading up to this moment.
“I think the situation today is good for us because we have 10 points and they have seven while we have a goal difference of +7 and they have +2, so we go into the match knowing that if we win, we are through while they have to win to have a chance. We want to win and hope to win. This is the situation no matter what happens, if we get a draw, I think it could be enough to still qualify. But we want to win this game.
“The Zambian team from one year ago is not the same today. They have new players who are coming in from the U-23, and they won the AFCON Junior tournament. We know it’s a different team which we will play against today and we are in high confidence. These two teams are the only ones who can qualify from our group and they both play very good football. Zambia have very quick players.
”We will try to do what we did against Cameroon today but we know it will be more difficult against Zambia because they saw our last two games, They know us and so we have to be able to have a good grasp of the game and to change something also, to be more dangerous and have that surprise package.’’
”It is important for us to win and to do that, we must be able to adapt our plans to Zambia style. Our players will give all they can give today. We are so close to Russia and everybody understands that this is not the time to lose focus. We know that it is in our hands now and this situation is important.
”When we won in Zambia, they told us that Nigeria never won there. So we think that statistics are different from the reality. We are in the realm of reality now and it is important we know that if we don’t win and we draw, we could still qualify but it is better to win and qualify”, added Rohr, who sounded a note of warning on the Chipolopolo.
”Nigerians don’t know that Zambians now have a very good team with new players who also play in Europe. So we have to be very careful and concentrate for the entire duration of the game. We must work hard to beat them because we saw their quality in the two games against Algeria, which they won”, said Rohr.