CHAN: AFCON winners back Eagles to overcome Ghana


Johnny Edward

Some of Nigeria’s esteemed class of Africa Cup of Nations winners is convinced that the Super Eagles B has what it takes to overturn their 2-0 first-leg deficit against Ghana’s Black Galaxies and qualify for the 2023 African Nations Championship finals, The PUNCH reports

Second half goals from Daniel Barnie and Seidu Suraj handed the Black Galaxies a 2-0 win over the Nigerians in Cape Coast in the first leg of their final qualifiers.

The Eagles face an uphill task when they host bitter rivals Ghana at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja on Saturday, knowing that a 3-0 victory will see them through to the group stage of the 2023 CHAN in Algeria.

But some AFCON winners voiced their confidence over coach Salisu Yusuf’s men turn the game on its head in Abuja.

“We have to be positive about the team and they have to try and win the game,” 1994 AFCON winner Emmanuel Amuneke told The PUNCH.

Amuneke was assistant coach when Ghana’s Black Stars nipped the Qatar 2022 World Cup ticket at the expense of the Super Eagles last May. And he advised the Eagles B team to be cautious against their dangerous opponents.

“They must try to keep their heads.  It’s about finding the right balance on the night. I think they can secure a win, but they have to be careful because the Ghanaians will come to Abuja to sit back like they did against the Eagles in March.

“The problem with rivalry is that the quality levels are so high that in little moments you can end up losing the game. I think that was the disappointing thing about the first leg but we’ve got the ability and we’ve got the desire. ”

Former Eagles captain, Henry Nwosu, a 1980 AFCON winner, added, “We need to score goals. If we don’t score a minimum of three goals, we are out. We know that, so if we can have everybody on their ‘A’ game, that can give us a chance to score goals. We love to have our back against before we claw back into reckoning and don’t forget the rivalry is always fierce.

Meanwhile, Ghana coach, Annor Walker, praised his players’ positive second-half attitude in their first leg win.

“In actual fact, it was a difficult game especially in the first half because the Nigerians didn’t allow us to play the way we wanted,” Walker said.

“So, after the first half, we talked to the players to change their mentality and play aggressively like how Nigeria did in the first half and I think that paid off for us.

“We have struggled in the first half in our last two games (Qatar and Nigeria) but against Benin, it wasn’t like that because we had the chance to score two early goals in the first half. We have noticed our shortfalls, going forward we will change the narrative” he said.

In three appearances at the CHAN tournament, Nigeria were runners-up at the 2018 edition in Morocco and placed third at the 2014 edition in South Africa, while at the 2016 edition, they failed to qualify from the group stage of the competition.