As the 2012 Africa Nations Cup finals kicks off in Equatorial Guinea and Gabon next Saturday, the mighty Super Eagles who missed out on qualification are busy leaving no stone unturned in their bid to resurrect when they face Rwanda in the preliminary round of 2013 Nations’ cup qualifiers.
Rwanda, who reached the Nations’ Cup final once in 2004 host Nigeria in the first leg of the marathon qualification round next month.
2011 was a bad year that Nigerians will never forget quickly because they failed to qualify for the 2012 Nations Cup.
But with the draws of the next edition out now, they are hoping they can qualify for the 2013 Nations Cup in South Africa. They are drawn in a group that is said to be relatively easy, but they must not give the impression that they can always have it so easy.
They are also going to play Malawi, Kenya and Namibia in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers and they need to prepare well but when you look back at what happened to Nigeria in the out- going year, it is probably the worst in their recent history as far as football is concerned.
The current Nigerian generation can be the best to show their true strength and potential. The coaches have introduced fresh and young talents into the team in order to qualify for the 2013 Nations Cup.
This should not take time because Keshi is a good coach who has done well in all the teams he has managed. Nigerians have expressed trust and gratitude in Keshi and everyone is working harder and focused to the future whose long journey begins in Rwanda.
Nigeria kicked off their preparations selecting players from the local Nigerian league and just like any other coach, Keshi’s mission is to have many of these players turning into a core for the Super Eagles.
In three weeks, Keshi made it possible that he could first access every local player before moving completely to Europe.
The Super Eagles forced Nations’ Cup bound team Angola’s Pelanca Negras in Abuja in midweek and they were due to play Liberia yesterday in Abuja.
I think these matches should have sent a signal to Rwanda FA and Amavubi technical staff, who are busy also preparing for the tricky encounter.
Keshi, who was one of high profile coaches to apply for the Amavubi job could go up by increasing the number of local-based players for the Rwandan game from 5 to 10. The 49-year-old Nigerian coach wants to pick only squad members who will ensure that the Super Eagles get a win in Kigali.
Putting in mind that Amavubi is currently locked with injuries to its influential players namely; Jean Baptist Mugiraneza, Ismail Nshutiyamagara, Frederick Ndaka, Andrew Buteera, goalie Jean Claude Ndoli, Eagles are predicted to have an easy go through in Kigali.
I dont see among the reserve players who will come on to play a defensive role in stopping striker Yakubu Ayegbeni who will be earning a recall to the Super Eagles squad.
The 29-year-old has not been called by Nigeria since his horror miss against South Korea at the 2010 World Cup. But with 14 goals in the Premier League so far this season, Keshi says he is prepared to bring Yakubu back.
With Yakubu around, another drubbing just like one we suffered on hands of Cote d’Ivoire (0-5) is at stake with the likes of Joseph Yobo (Fenerbahce), Taye Taiwo (AC Milan), Uwa Elderson (Sporting Braga), John Obi Mikel (Chelsea),Dickson Etuhu (Fulham), Ikechukwu Uche (Granada), Peter Odemwinge (West Bromwich), Victo Obinna (Lokomotiv), Victor Moses (Wigan Athletic) and Obademi Martins (Rubin Kazan) all set to be on the trip to Kigali.
The Eagles are superior to Rwanda in terms of the quality of players as well as experience in the game and therefore need to be confident and hope that Keshi puts his act together.
The truth is that Nigeria is bigger and better than Rwanda in terms of football. Rwanda doesn’t have the quality of players that Nigeria has especially foreign-based players, neither is our league better than theirs.
Everyone from the administration, media and team aspects is working harder to stop what happened in 2006 when Amavubi denied the Super Eagles to proceed to Germany World Cup when they held their mighty opponents to a 1-1 draw in Kigali.
And a new chapter for Nigeria and probably a new year present for Nigerians is a must come February 29, 2012 at Amahoro stadium.