Don’t write us off, Eagles tell Nigerians
•Ikeme out of Alexandria clash
Though some Nigerians have written off the Super Eagles chances of qualifying for the 2017 AFCON in Gabon, following last Friday’s 1-1 draw with the Pharaohs of Egypt in Kaduna, team captain, John Mikel Obi, sees things from a different angle.
“We have a big challenge at hand and we will try our best to put smile on faces of Nigerians in the second leg in Egypt,” Mikel told The Guardian in Kaduna on Friday.
The Eagles squandered their chance of going top of the group by surrendering their 1-0 lead at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium. The return leg comes up tomorrow and Mikel says it is a mission possible in Alexandria.
Ten years ago at this same venue, Mikel piloted the Super Eagles midfield in the semifinal of Egypt 2006 African Cup of Nations against the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire.
That team led by former defender, Austin Eguavoen, with Dan Amokachi, Samson Siasia and Ike Shorunmu as assistant coaches, went down 0-1 to the Ivoirians, no thanks to Didier Drogba’s lone strike.
This time around, it is a battle between Nigeria and Egypt in the race for Gabon 2017 AFCON and Mikel says the Eagles are ready.
Anything short of victory will not be good for Nigeria, haven failed to qualify for the last edition of the Nations Cup in Equatorial Guinea.
The Chelsea midfielder said they were fully aware of the expectations of Nigerians, adding that the mission to Egypt is to grab the three points at stake.
Meanwhile, Super Eagles and Wolverhampton Wanderers of England shot –stopper, Carl Ikeme, is out of tomorrow’s game in Alexandria.
Ikeme is feeling unwell and the coaches have decided not to risk him in goal tomorrow during the all -important encounter against the Pharaohs, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) said in its website.
Super Eagles team doctor, Ibrahim Gyaran, said the goalkeeper has stomach upset, which has kept him out of training since Friday’s game in Kaduna.
“After the game last Friday, Carl has been struggling with some stomach upset and it has not allowed him train with the rest of the squad,” Gyaran disclosed.
“He is stable but needs a lot of rest to be back in 100% shape for the kind of high-profile game that we have on Tuesday. Considering the amount of travel involved as well, it is best we give him a break,” he added.
Reacting, Head Coach Samson Siasia has allayed fears that the absence of the goalkeeper will hamper the team’s chances of victory tomorrow.
“We will surely miss Carl but the good thing with our team is that we have capable replacements in every department. Daniel Akpeyi and Ikechukwu Ezenwa are still here and any one of these two will help us get the job done in Alexandria,” Siasia concluded.