Stand-in Captain of the Super Eagles, Ahmed Musa Thursday aptly summed up Friday’s dead-rubber 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier between Nigeria and Pirates of Seychelles as ‘Battle of Pride.’
“Yes, we have qualified already (for AFCON 2019), but there is something called pride. And also, we need to be in the mood for the match against Egypt, and again take this as part of the preparation for the Cup of Nations.
“The Cup of Nations is less than three months away so our preparation has already started. The bigger picture is the thing,” observed the Al Nassr of Saudi Arabia forward shortly after Eagles last training session for today’s clash with Seychelles at the Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba.
Of course, after picking one of the tickets of the Group E way back in November last year through the 1-1 draw with South Africa in Johannesburg, Super Eagles have nothing to worry against the Pirates of Seychelles who are at the bottom of the table.
In reality, the fixture is nothing more than fulfilling the final day fixtures of the AFCON 2019 qualifiers!
However, like Musa rightly pointed out, Super Eagles preparations for the African football fiesta scheduled to hold in June in the land of the Pharaohs has started with this game.
It will be an opportunity for team handler, Gernot Rohr to assess his wards before the Grade-A international friendly with seven-time African champions Egypt scheduled for Tuesday at the same Stephen Keshi Stadium in Asaba.
In the first leg fixture away in Mahe Island last September, goals by Ahmed Musa (a rocket from his weaker left foot), defender Chidozie Awaziem and Odion Ighalo sealed a 3-0 win and kept the Eagles in the hunt for the ticket to the 2019 AFCON.
Wins over Libya home and away and the draw in South Africa took Nigeria to 10 points and the ticket to the finals.
Libya’s Mediterranean Knights, who are involved in the other match of the group against South Africa in Tunisia, incinerated the Pirates 8-1 right in the same Mahé Island in one of the group matches. That remains the highest-score win of the entire qualifying series.
Will Eagles attempt to surpass the record set by the Libyans against the Pirates today? Even if that is not the priority of Musa and his colleagues, fans should be ready for an afternoon of goal feast.
Cape Verde official Fabricio Duarte is centre referee for today’s match. His compatriot, Jose Carlos Alexandre Pina Mendes is the assistant referee 1, with Delgade Fernandes Wilson Jorge as assistant referee 2 and Delgado Rocha Lenine as fourth official.
Before the high-profile Nigeria versus Egypt game, Nigeria Under-23 squad that was subdued 2-0 in Tunisia on Wednesday afternoon in Tunisia will on Monday seek to overturn the first leg loss to their Libyan counterparts in a 2019 Africa Under-23 Cup of Nations qualifying first round fixture.