Rangers FC forward, Chrisantus Uzoenyi Ejike, is upbeat about Nigeria’s chances of reaching the final of the 2014 African Nations Championship (CHAN) and hopes the home-based Eagles get the chance to prove their worth in next summer’s Fifa World Cup in Brazil.
The Super Eagles team B will be up against Ghana in the semi-finals of the CHAN at the Free State Stadium, Mangaung, today (Wednesday).
Ejike, 23, who grabbed his third goal of the tournament in the win over Morocco on Saturday says the Coach Stephen Keshi-led side are poised not to end their campaign abruptly without the trophy.
“The spirit amongst us has remained high and we are focused on doing well on Wednesday,” he told Cafonline.com.
“We are on course to win this championship.”
The Eagles emancipated from mare debutantes to becoming the bookmakers favourite for the CHAN title on the backdrop of one or two memorable wins in the wake of their Opening Day loss to Mali in Cape Town.
Uzoenyi says the squad has always meant business despite having to get off their debut appearance on a losing note and will leave no stone unturned against perennial rival.
“It may surprise others but to us in the team, we know our goal and why we are here in this tournament. We mean business and you have all seen how we communicated this belief on the field of play.
“Yes there is a lot of respect for Ghana but nobody is going to stand in our way to win the trophy. So Ghana will fall on Wednesday.”
The Black Stars have only conceded once- in the 1-1 draw against fellow semi-finalist, Libya, in their penultimate Group C match. But unlike the free-scoring Eagles have never scored more than a goal through to the knock-out round.
Comeback kings, Nigeria, has scored eight more goals than their opponents, but have likewise conceded that much against opponents- an aspect the team has to address ahead of Wednesday’s crucial encounter.
Nonetheless, Uzoenyi believes their firepower will be decisive against Ghana and wants to be among the scores after 90 minutes.
“(The Super Eagles) will find a way to score and believe me we shall score,” he stressed.
The last time Ghana lost to Nigeria in a competitive tournament was in the Group Stage of the 2006 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Egypt. They have won their West African neighbours since then. With both nations due for the 2014 Fifa World Cup in Brazil, the forward sees Wednesday’s cracker as the best opportunity to prove to Keshi how “committed” a team the CHAN Eagles can be and probably get one or three players a slot in the 23-man squad Brazil.
Uzoenyi continued: “When one gets a chance during a tournament like this, one has to make the most of it and I know that our team is benefiting from that kind of attitude and commitment.”
(Kick-off time is 7:30 Nigerian time. Live on Super Sport, NTA and other terrestrial channels.)