Nigeria, Costa Rica tango in San Jose, in Los Ticos’ send-forth game
• ‘Eagles Team A getting ready for Portugal test’
Nigeria’s efforts at rebuilding its senior national team after the failure to qualify for the Qatar 2022 World Cup continues today in San Jose, where a new set of players will test their might against Costa Rica’s national team.
While Costa Rica is bound for the World Cup, which kicks off on November 20, the Super Eagles have arranged a series of friendly games to test their available materials with a view to building a team that would not be found wanting at crucial times.
The game against Costa Rica will be prosecuted by players who were not part of the team that failed to beat Ghana to the Qatar World Cup ticket.
The idea, according to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), is to see how many of the new players can fit into the emerging Super Eagles.
The Super Eagles’ delegation arrived in San Jose on Sunday evening ahead of the game, which will hold in the early hours of tomorrow.
The Super Eagles’ squad, who are lodged at Real Intercontinental Hotel, San Jose, is made up of mostly home-based players, some of who were drafted from the national U-23 team.
The match is part of major activities to send forth the Los Ticos to the FIFA World Cup finals in Qatar.
The game, scheduled for the National Stadium in San Jose, will kick off at 8.00 p.m. Costa Rica time today, which is 3.00 a.m. in Nigeria.
According to the NFF, players who excel in this friendly against Costa Rica would be drafted to the main team, which is billed to meet Portugal in another match three days to the World Cup.
The three-time African champions were initially scheduled to play Guinea Bissau in a double-header Africa Cup of Nations’ qualifiers in the FIFA international break.
But with the qualifiers postponed until March 2023 by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) last month, the NFF arranged the matches to keep the rebuilding process on the right path.
The match against Portugal will be the first time the countries will meet at the senior level, even though they played against each other three times at the U-20 World Cup with Portugal winning all three meetings (twice in 1989 and 2013).
Coincidentally, Cristiano Ronaldo and his team are in the same group with Ghana, who beat Nigeria to the World Cup ticket after playing a 1-1 draw with Nigeria at the Moshood Abiola Stadium in Abuja in March.
The Guardian learnt that Coach Jose Peseiro and his team would start preparations for the game against Portugal once the major European leagues begin their World Cup break this week.