SUPER EAGLES AFCON DRAW ; A PERFECT PATHWAY FOR NIGERIA TO ACHIEVE IT’S “LET’S DO IT AGAIN” 2023 NATIONS CUP OBJECTIVE

    Super Eagles of Nigeria, 2013 AFCON Champions

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    The Countdown to the 2024 Africa Cup Of Nations Tournament has reached its serious end following the draw of the tournament held in Abidjan, Ivory Coast .

    Twenty four African Countries including the Super Eagles of Nigeria now know their group opponents at next’s tournament.

    Countries can now step up their preparations for the tournament which starts in January as regards organisation of Friendly games and likely opponents.

    Three times Champion Nigeria are among the top teams going into the tournament and the team have now have been drawn in Group A alongside host country Ivory Coast, Guinea Bissau and Equitorial Guinea.

    In the face of mix reactions to the Super Eagles Group, President of the Nigeria Football Federation Ibrahim Gusau has described the draw as a Good one for Nigeria.

    Gusau said ” For me I see it as a very good draw for us and our focus remains the same which is to prepare the team the best way possible so that we can achieve the aim of winning the trophy”.

    Seeing the draw personally , I can only but agree totally with the NFF boss that having Ivory Coast and the two Guinean countries is a perfect draw for our Super Eagles.

    And I strongly believe also that for Nigeria to achieve the “LET’S DO IT AGAIN” mantra in Ivory Coast, this kind of draw will be a good platform to build on to reach the tournament’s final.

    It’s a known fact that the quality of African football has continued to rise and even the so called smaller countries are begining to parade good players who ply their trades in Europe, but the Current Nigeria squad is full of top name players whose qualities tear down headlines in Europe week in week out.

    Ivory coast is not a strange opponent for the Super Eagles and both countries have huge history of producing World class players.

    It is therefore almost a straight forward prediction that Nigeria and Host Ivory Coast will be the top two teams to qualify from their group, baring any tournament upset.

    This however does not mean Equitorial Guinea and Guinea Bissau are push-overs.

    Guinea-Bissau have been making some strong statement on the continent in the last couple of years, qualifying for the 2022 Nations Cup in Cameroon and now making it to the 2024 tournament.

    They finished second behind the Super Eagles in the AFCON qualifiers and will be hoping for tournament upset to go beyond the Group stage in Ivory Coast.

    Their Guinean brothers, Equitorial Guinea are far more of a better improved Footballing country and they have continued to prove this by their regular qualification for the AFCON in recent years.

    Infact the last AFCON in Cameroon they made it beyond the group stage in a Group that had Ivory Coast and Algeria.

    They eventually fell in the knock out stage to Mali on Penalties so they will be very optimistic that despite being in the same group with Nigeria and Ivory’s Coast, they have got a descent chance.

    Unfortunately for them maybe host Country Ivory’s Coast will trade their spot in the knock phase with them but certainly not the current Super Eagles team with the present leadership of the NFF board.

    NFF President Ibrahim Gusau has reassured in several fora that the well being of all the National teams is his board’s main objective and that will not be compromised at any time under his tenure.

    Little wonder , the Eagles are making judicious use of every FIFA free window to play competitive Friendly games which will continue heading to the Nation’s Cup.

    The NFF President has continued to have serious engagements with both the Corporate bodies and the Government through the Minister of Sports as regards the funding of the Super Eagles and other National teams.

    And all things being equal if the NFF gets the desired support from all quarters then the campaign of “LET’S DO IT AGAIN” will become a reality in Ivory Coast next year.

    By Michael Obasi.
    Sports Affairs Analyst, is based in Abuja, Nigeria.

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