Head Coach Salisu Yusuf says his wards will come to the party with their iron gloves when Nigeria confront Sudan in the second semi final of the 5th African Nations Championship in Marrakech on Wednesday.
“We have not reached this stage by looking down on any team, and we will not start now. The Final of the African Nations Championship beckons and we will go out there with all that we have got.
“Sudan is a very good team. We have followed their progress and know what to take to the pitch on Wednesday. I have confidence that we will do Nigeria proud,” said the former Nigeria international.
Yusuf and assistants Imama Amapakabo and Alloy Agu have toiled day and night to take Nigeria to only her second CHAN semi final in history, but Yusuf gives immense credit to the leadership of the NFF for always living up to its words.
“We are ecstatic that we have an NFF administration that always fulfills its promises. Our target is the trophy, no less. But we have been taking it one match at a time and we will do the same with the Sudanese in Marrakech.”
NFF President Amaju Pinnick, who will chair a meeting of his AFCON Committee in Casablanca the same day before travelling to Marrakech in the evening, showered encomiums on the Federal Government and Sports Minister Solomon Dalung for enabling the NFF leadership to meet its words to the team, and indeed all the National Teams at all times.
“Whatever promises we fulfill are largely enabled by the Government, and I want to commend the Honourable Minister of Sports, Barrister Solomon Dalung, for always being there for the NFF. President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) is the number one supporter of the National Teams and he has been urging the Eagles on from their first day at this tournament.
“The only way the team and NFF can repay him is to win this trophy.”
Nigeria’s best –ever outing at the CHAN remains a third place finish in South Africa four years ago, where a squad coached by Stephen Keshi (of blessed memory) lost to Ghana on penalties in the last four but pipped Zimbabwe for the bronze medals.
Yusuf said: “Reaching the Final alone will mean history for this team. That is why we are focusing on the semi final match for now. The target is to reach Sunday’s Final in Casablanca, and slug it out with whichever opposition presents itself there.” Hosts Morocco and Libya battle it out in an all –North African first semi final in Casablanca on Wednesday afternoon.
Yusuf and the Super Eagles have to devise strategies to out –think and out –manoeuvre an austere Sudanese defence that has conceded only one goal in four previous matches, coming out unscathed against prolific host nation Morocco and Zambia.
On the other hand, the Eagles have netted six times in their previous four matches, coming from behind in their last two games, and an interesting encounter awaits at the Grande Stade Marrakech as from 8.30pm Nigeria time on Wednesday.
“We are highly motivated for this match. We have received our monies and the spirit is very high in the team. Let’s go there,” goalkeeper and skipper Ikechukwu Ezenwa said at Tuesday’s pre –match press conference.