Super Eagles players and coaches have expressed optimism on the country’s chances of making it to the playoff round of the 2014 World Cup qualifying matches.
Nigeria hosts the Flames of Malawi at the UJ Esuene Stadium, Calabar, on Saturday and, having notched up nine points, sits at the summit of the Group F table; one point away from the two-legged ten-team playoff round of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) zone World Cup qualifiers.
Malawi, whose delegation of 21 players and seven officials flew into Abuja- where the team has flown aboard an Arik Airline flight into Calabar- on Thursday morning, will be gunning for a rare away victory against the African champions to make the next round of the qualifier. The Flames are second in the group log on nine points.
Eagles’ Metropolitan Hotel base has been bubbling with new arrivals since its opening last Monday as Nnamdi Oduamadi and John Ogu reportedly arrived last for the decisive face off.
Coach Keshi has warned his wards against complacency in their quest to fly Nigeria’s green and white flag for the fifth time at the world soccer showpiece tagged Brazil 2014.
The 51-year-old tactician insists he will only pick the best players who would be able to put paid to the job at hand for Saturday’s encounter.
“We are cruising well, but not yet over the line,” he said on Thursday. “We have to send the best guys out there to get the job done.
All 23 squad members took to the wet UJ Esuene Stadium pitch on Thursday for training with over 7,000 football-loving fans on hand to watch the evening session, some of whom who edged closer to a touching distance for a glimpse of their idols.
The Malawians are expected to train at the match venue today (Friday) from 4pm local time.
Nigeria have not lost any international match at the venue of Saturday meeting in the past and when both teams met in Blantyre on June 9 last year, the Eagles were running away with a lone goal scored by Reuben Gabriel nine minutes to full-time, before the hosts equalised from a defensive error.