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Nigeria fights for survival as Ghana dreams of another victory in Abuja

By Adetoun Adejumobi
03 September 2022   |   3:35 am
Nigeria will today, in Abuja, try to avoid another heartache at the MKO Abiola Stadium when the home-based national team, known as Eagles B, tackle their Ghanaian counterparts in an African Nations Championship

[FILES] Super Eagles

We’re Encouraged By Football History, Says Yusuf
• Federal Government Makes Entry Free

Nigeria will today, in Abuja, try to avoid another heartache at the MKO Abiola Stadium when the home-based national team, known as Eagles B, tackles their Ghanaian counterparts in an African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifier.

Ghana’s main national team, the Black Stars, in March, held Nigeria to a 1-1 draw at the MKO Abiola Stadium and ensured the Super Eagles failed to qualify for the Qatar 2022 World Cup on the away goals rule. The first leg of that tie had ended in a goalless draw before the March 29 debacle in Abuja.

Today, the countries are back to the same Abuja stadium to fight for another ticket, but on offer, this time is a passage to the African Nations Championship billed to hold in Algeria in January, next year.

The African Nations Championship is a national team competition made for players plying their trade in their home countries.

When the teams met in Cape Coast last week, Ghana ran away with a 2-0 victory, which they have vowed to protect today.

But the Nigerian team’s handlers believe the story will be different this time.

Speaking ahead of the match, Super Eagles B Coach, Salisu Yusuf, said his team is highly encouraged by football history to take on the Galaxies of Ghana and overcome the 2-0 advantage.

Coach Yusuf said everyone familiar with the game of football will understand that the first half is not the end of any match, just as the first leg is not the end of a qualifying series.

He said: “We have seen teams come back from 1-0 down to win a game. We have seen 2-0, 3-0 and even 4-0 and the results ended differently. We are familiar with football history and many of us can list many matches that changed from the original setting.

“We have seen teams lead by 2-0 or more from the first leg and eventually lose out after the second leg. What is important is for us to find our approach and stay focused for the encounter on Saturday.

“We can confidently look forward to Saturday because our opponents are not better than us. The advantage they are holding against us is that they have had a team far longer than us and played more matches but in spite of our short time in camp we will pursue our goal to qualify for Algeria.”

Reacting to Yusuf’s dream of overturning his team’s advantage, Ghana’s Coach, Anor Walker, said nothing will stop the Black Galaxies from going home with the CHAN ticket.

“Defeat in Abuja is not possible because they don’t have the attack to trouble my team. We have done our homework and we are not coming back without the qualification ticket,” Walker said.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has thrown open the gate for fans to come and cheer the team to victory.

However, fans are expected to get their tickets at the point of entry for crowd control purposes.