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‘Let’s do it again’ is Super Eagles’ slogan; but can they really do it?




It is days to the kick-off of Nigeria’s opening match of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations. The team, as stated by the NFF, has adopted  ‘Let’s do it again’ as their mantra.

It is believed that the Super Eagles are eager to replicate the team spirit exhibited 10 years ago when against public perception, they defied all odds to win the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa.

The mixture of home boys with some experienced players under a focussed coach performed that magic. The scenario is far different from the present.

The signals are loud and clear. It is only there for perspective observers to decode. For a championship holding in Cote d’Ivoire which has a relatively the same weather condition like Nigeria, the Super Eagles, most of which players are currently under winter condition in Europe, will be camped in Abu Dhabi from January 3.


What is the objective? One does not need to undergo rigorous geography lesson to imagine what the weather will be in the United Arab Emirate city.

A simple check on the internet will reveal that January in Abu Dhabi is the coolest month of the year. Because of the pleasant temperatures, this is a busy month for tourism in the city. January is a great time to check out the fossil dunes in the desert of Al Wathba.

In contrast, Abidjan, the theatre of Nigeria’s group matches the average temperature in January for a typical day ranges from a high of 89°F (31°C) to a low of 76°F (24°C).


While should a team dreaming to regain old glory spend scarce resources to fly their players from different parts of Europe, first to the Middle East, and then to Nigeria before travelling to Cote d’Ivoire?


It was a similar lack of Geography lesson that made the NFF camp the Super Eagles in the United Kingdom while preparing for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

A secondary school geography student will know that in the Southern Hemisphere where South Africa belongs, the weather condition is direct opposite of what is obtained in the north of the equator.

Thus, June-July is the height of winter condition South Africa whereas it would be summer in most parts of southern Europe, including the UK.

England and other European teams left their countries and moved northwards where the climates are generally cold.

The Super Eagles trained under warm summer conditions in the UK before flying to the winter situation in South Africa where their first two matches were to be under severe winter conditions, especially at Bloemfontein.


Only their third match was to be in Durban which enjoys an all season summer condition. Yet, the Super Eagles set their camp in Durban.

If they had survived the last group match against Korea Republic, they would had to have their Round of 16 match in the colds of Johannesburg/Pretoria.

The team officials failed the geography lesson. Yet that was not the first instance.

In the build-up to the final qualification for the 1982 World Cup in which Nigeria had Algeria to contend with, the then Green Eagles went on playing and training tour of coldest regions of Europe in UK, Norway and Iceland for a match in hot weathered Lagos. Off course, the result was a foregone conclusion.

Nigeria crashed 2-0 at home to trigger the inability to qualify for the World Cup.


The Super Eagles appear on that same path. Even as squad sizes are now being cut to the 27, Nigeria still have 41 and there seems to be difficulties in pruning to the required figure.

In the preliminary list is Ahmed Musa. From body languages being read, he will most likely make the final list, although, he may just have cameo appearances in the group matches.

Of what value is the inclusion of a player that is surplus to requirement?

The argument will be the influence he wields in the team. He may as well make the Nigerian contingent as a back-room staff without being in the squad.

We can only think of an encore of AFCON 2013 if the NFF re-evaluates the strategies for Cote d’Ivoire 2023. Those who have ears, let them hear!


Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.


Nigeria’s AFCON 2025 fixtures almost in same pattern with World Cup qualifiers



Confederation of African Football (CAF)  has now released the full fixtures of the qualifying series for the 2025 Africa Cup of Nations.

The fixtures for the Nigerian team is almost in the same pattern with that of the 2026 World Cup qualification which has seen the Super Eagles wobbling.

Like that of the World Cup, the Super Eagles will begin their quest for qualifcation for AFCON with a home game in Uyo as they will host Benin Republic.

As it was in the World Cup, they will then head to Rwanda. Last November, their second match was played in Rwanda which hosted Zimbabwe home match. This time the Super Eagles will be facing Rwanda, the same team they will meet when the World Cup qualification series resume in March next year.

On Match Day 3, the Super Eagles will host Libya and will have the reverse fixture immediately after that of Match Day 3.


Later they travel to Benin for Match Day 5 before hosting Rwanda on the last match day.

The Fixtures

  • September 2 – Nigeria vs Benin Republic; Libya vs Rwanda
  • September 6 – Rwanda vs Nigeria; Benin Republic vs Libya
  • October 11 – Nigeria vs Libya; Benin Republic vs Rwanda
  • October 16 – Libya vs Nigeria; Rwanda vs Benin Republic
  • November 11 – Benin Republic vs Nigeria; Rwanda vs Libya
  • November 15 – Nigeria vs Rwanda; Libya vs Benin Republic

The top two teams qualify for AFCON 2025

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Rohr roars warning to Benin; Nigeria, Rwanda will not be easy




Former Nigeria manager, Gernot Rohr now handling Benin Republic has warned The Cheetahs of Benin not to expect an easy match when the team meet Rwanda and Nigeria in the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers later this month.

 Last month, he led his team to defeat both Rwanda and Nigeria in World Cup qualifying duels in Abidjan, where Benin Republic are compelled to play their home matches following inadequate facilities at home.

 Benin’s 1-0 defeat of Rwanda was Rohr’s first victory with the team. Days later, he followed up with a 2-1 defeat of Nigeria, the first Benin Republic victory in over 65 years.

 Those wins have put Benin in the frame of possible qualification for the World Cup. They are now to meet Nigeria and Rwanda again in World Cup qualifiers.


 It won’t be easy, remarked Rohr.  Hear the Franco-German as he spoke in French but translated into English for the Sports Village Square: “From September we will play against Nigeria before facing Libya and Rwanda.  

“These are three difficult opponents.  We had already played Rwanda and Nigeria but be careful, it’s not because we won Rwanda and Nigeria that it will be easy matches.

“ We know that it is possible to achieve good performances again.  We know that Nigeria with its great players will want to take revenge against us.

“ I think it will probably be an interesting match in Uyo before continuing against Libya.  I suppose in Abidjan because in September the Mathieu Kerekou friendship stadium  will not be ready.  

“Everything will be decided in three months in September, October and November.  It’s a difficult group but it’s playable.  


“You have to finish in the top two.  We had a team that is becoming solid, where the players are like brothers, accomplices.  I hope we will recover the players who were absent.  We are confident.”

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Coaches react after intriguing Africa Cup of Nations Qualifiers Draw



The journey towards qualification to the  Africa Cup of Nations Morocco 2025 shifted a gear higher on Thursday, after CAF officially conducted the draw of the qualifiers in Johannesburg South Africa.

A total of 48 nations will vie for the 24 places that will contests the 35th edition of Africa’s most prestigious competition.

This is what some of the coaches has to say in reaction to the draw outcomes.

Emerse Fae, Cote d’Ivoire coach

“I am satisfied because we are going to play against Zambia, a team that we know very well. In our last qualifying campaign, we lost against them. We know what mistakes to avoid.


“I am also satisfied because I did not want to have countries geographically far from Cote d’Ivoire which will lessen the travel load. That said, in Africa, there are no longer small teams. All the teams will want to challenge us because we are the reigning champions”

Leslie Notši

“The draw is very interesting because when you have the host in your group, it means they qualify automatically for the tournament, and you have to double your efforts to secure the remaining qualification spot which will be contested by the three other teams in the group.

“We will work very hard to see to it that we are competitive side and try as much as we can to get maximum points in matches against countries that are with us in our group. It will be very important to do well in our home games and I know all eyes will be on “Morocco as the hosts and a powerhouse in our group. We will draw inspiration from recent games where we played the likes of Nigeria as well as Cote d’voire and were able to frustrate them”

Amir Abdou, Mauritania Coach


“Quite a complicated draw. Egypt will be the big contender for qualification. They have a good track record that speaks volumes.

“Seven times African champions – that’s no small thing. We also have Cape Verde who eliminated us during the last AFCON.

“This team is made up of many quality players. We have Botswana, they are having a good qualifying campaign for the World Cup. We have a pretty strong group. It’s up to us to believe in ourselves. We will do everything we can to achieve our fourth participation in the AFCON”.

Kévin Nicaise, Chad coach

 “We are already having the reigning African champions facing the last qualified team in the FIFA rankings. These will definitely be very difficult matches played at high intensity. We will fight to defend our nation’s pride. The group remains relatively open, and we will approach these qualifications with humility and ambition”.


 Badou Zaki, Niger coach

“We have every chance of qualifying. For me, Ghana is a football country with a team that is blessed with great professionals. But this is not the team of 5 or 6 years ago. Even at home, they can lose.

“Angola had a good showing at the last AFCON with their beautiful, modern and fast football. It’s a team that shook up the big teams in Cote d’Ivoire.

“I know Sudan very well. They are first in their World Cup qualifying group. They are going to be dangerous, but we know our strengths and we know we can go far”


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