‘I see victory for Eagles in Zambia’
• Coach Izilien Says Absence Of Moses,
Balogun, Success May Be Blessing In Disguise
Former Golden Eaglets and Super Falcons coach, Godwin Izilein is not bothered over the absence of Victor Moses, Leon Balogun and Isaac Success in Super Eagles squad, as Nigeria kick-start the 2018 World Cup qualifiers campaign against the Chipolopolo of Zambia tomorrow in Ndola.
The team will jet out to Zambia early this morning with high level of optimism on the part of players and technical crew members, despite the three mind-boggling injuries that hit the team in the spate of 10 days (Balogun, Moses and Success are all out).
For coach Izilien, who led the Super Falcons to win the African Women Championship (AWC) title 2006 in South Africa, tomorrow’s game against Zambia might give players who will step into the position of ‘injured’ Moses, Balogun and Isaac Success to opportunity to establish themselves in the team.
“I don’t see any reason why Nigerian football fans should be worried over the absence of Victor Moses and co regarding this game against Zambia. Nobody is indispensable. I just hope they are not ‘faking’ injury because there could be grave consequences. On the other hand, their absence is an opportunity for other players to prove their worth.
“From what I saw of their friendly match against Plateau United, coupled with the zeal and determination written all over the face of the players, I see the Super Eagles beating Zambia on Sunday. My prayer is that there should be no injury in the team between now and Sunday. The coaches have done their part and it is now left for the players to prove to Nigerians that they were rightly chosen. Like I said, I see victory coming the way of the Super Eagles against the Chipolopolo in Ndola,” Izilien said.
The Super Eagles and Chipolopolo have one thing in common going into tomorrow’s clash, having missing out on the 2017 Afcon in Gabon.
The Sports Minister of Zambia, Moses Mawere says only a ticket to Russia 2018 World Cup can alleviate the pain felt by country collectively for missing out of Gabon 2017 Afcon.
Mawere has charged the Chipolopolo to do everything possible to beat the visiting Super Eagles at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium tomorrow.
He said: “Our expectation is high, the only hope is the World Cup ticket after failing to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations. I challenge the players and coaches to step up and perform better. We need to beat Nigeria, we can do it,” Mawere told Zambia Post.
On his part, Super Eagles Technical adviser, Gernot Rohr says there is nothing to worry about, though he admitted the battle of Ndola might be difficult: “We go to Zambia to win and (knowing) it will be difficult because Zambia have a good team and like the three other teams in our group, any one of us could qualify for the World Cup. Our scouts watched them against Kenya (in an Afcon qualifier last month) and also noticed that the pitch in Ndola is not good, but it will be the same for both teams.”
According to Supersport.com, the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola was completed by the Chinese firm, Shanghai Construction in 2012, and hosts not just the national team since they moved from the Heroes Stadium in Lusaka, but the in-form Zesco United as well.
The stadium, the report says, has had more than the normal activity and it needs a long spell of ‘rest’ to recover from the wear and tear, as the surface is natural grass.
The Super Eagles had focused on passing ball in the air during practice and not on the ground. The contingent will leave Abuja to Zambia this morning via Arik Airlines, and had just one practice on the pitch later this evening.
Meanwhile, Chipolopolo’s defender, Lawrence Chungu was dropped from the squad ahead of tomorrow’s game against the Super Eagles. The Power Dynamos player was the 10th home-based player to be dropped as the team was reduced to the final 23.
Chungu was one of three Power Dynamos players dropped from the Zambia team together with defender Billy Mutale and striker Patson Daka.
Goalkeeper Allan Chibwe and striker Fwayo Tembo have made the final cut to face Nigeria tomorrow.