Kalu, Erico, Disu warn Eagles against rebuilt Cameroon
Following Cameroun’s unexpected triumph at the Gabon 2017 African Nations Cup a coach and football enthusiasts have advised the Super Eagles to be ready for war if they desired to play at the Russia 2018 World Cup.
Cameroun, who were not given any chance of success in Gabon, beat Egypt 2-1 to win the African Nations Cup, a competition Nigeria didn’t qualify for.
Buoyed by the success in Gabon, former Super Eagles’ coach, Joe Erico, former international, Tajudeen Disu, as well as Abia State’s former Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, believe the Indomitable Lions would be hard to beat when Nigeria meet them in the Russia 2018 qualifiers in August.
Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, Erico said Cameroun’s victory without several of their key players means that the Super Eagles have to work hard to be able to surmount the threat that will be posed by the Lions in August.
“Do you know what it means to win the AFCON title without some of your key players? This is a signal for people to be careful. So, whichever team that will meet the new African champions will have to sit up.
“Within a month, the Camerounians played six highly competitive matches and when you add what the players would still play for their clubs, it means they will be very prepared for the games against Nigeria.
“Do you understand what it means to stay together for almost a month playing together as a team?
“When you say some players stayed together for four weeks, it means that if a player in a team coughs, sneezes, the teammates already know what it means. They will represent the continent at the Confederation Cup later in the year, which will give them a further boost. That is the difference between them and Nigeria right now.
“In Nigeria’s case, we had no competition and that is the more reason why we must build a strong team, a team that would be difficult to break by any team except through the grace of God. This is also a sign that we too have to start preparing for friendlies probably four to five competitive matches to get ourselves tuned up,” he said.
In his own reaction, former junior international, Tajudeen Disu, said Cameroun’s win is a moral boost for them going into future competitions.
“I am one of the few people, who believed that the Camerounians were not going to be easy to play with even when we were getting good results in other World Cup qualifiers. This is the time for the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to look into making players very comfortable. We need to put them in the right frame of mind for crucial games.
“Our problem is that we are used to a fire brigade approach. I do not think that would change now as it has become endemic. Right from my days in the Eagles’ camp, the players have always given more than 100 per cent of their efforts through determination and commitment. The fire brigade approach is not the best for us if we have to achieve things in football,” he said.
To former Abia State Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, Super Eagles’ Manager, Gernot Rohr, should keep more than an eye on the team of the moment as both sides prepare to meet in the World Cup qualifiers later in the year.
Kalu, who followed the tournament specifically to size up the Indomitable Lions, did not bargain for the tremendous showing of the now five-time winners, especially in the absence of some of their super stars.
He said: “The Indomitable Lions have become a looming threat to Eagles’ World Cup aspirations. I did not give them a chance at all, but now we have all seen that the road to Russia 2018 is going to be rougher. For Cameroun to excel without Liverpool’s Joel Matip and the trio of Eric Choupo-Moting, Andre Onana and Alan Nyom, that’s incredible.”
He urged the Super Eagles to remember the ill fated journey to Italia ‘90 during which the Indomitable Lions stopped Nigeria in spite of the death of Sam Okwaraji.
“History must not repeat itself. During the Italia ‘90 qualifiers, Cameroun and Nigeria were in the same group. We needed just a draw in Yaounde to advance having beaten them 2-0 at the Adamasingba Stadium, Ibadan, the day Austin Eguavoen scored his first goal for the Eagles. It did not happen. Peter Rufai was dropped at the airport by Clemens Westerhof, David Ngodigha was injured in the game that turned out to be Aloysius Agu’s debut.
“And the Lions were at the time Nations Cup champions having won in 1988. François Oman Biyik sealed it with a header that gave the hosts a 1-0 victory,” Kalu warned.
He has also volunteered to open up talks between former captain Vincent Enyeama and Rohr.
“I think there is communication gap between Rohr and Enyeama. I am ready to bring them together. We need good keepers to support Carl Ikeme. The Eagles also need to play friendlies with Senegal and Burkina Faso. They are francophone and play like the Indomitable Lions,” Kalu said.