Lagos - As Nigerians continue to sharpen their proficiency in arithmetic and burden their calculators on how the Super Eagles can qualify for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, the man at the centre of the assignment, Shuaibu Amodu, is of the view that the challenge is surmountable.
In any event, he has done it before.
In April 2001, then NFA sacked Dutchman Johannes Bonfrere with Nigeria’s 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifying ship in troubled waters. They brought in Amodu, with Stephen Keshi and Joe Erico as his assistants. They needed to win all of Nigeria’s last three matches of the campaign to be sure of a place in Korea/Japan.
Ever confident of his own ability, Amodu led the team to turn back Liberia 2-0 in Port Harcourt, hammer Sudan 4-0 in Omdurman and dismiss Ghana 3-0 in Port Harcourt to qualify for the World Cup.
The present situation is no less daunting, but Amodu is not ruffled. As a result of CAF’s regulation for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, the Super Eagles need to score three goals in Brazzaville on November 15 and not concede more than one to steady their ship for Morocco.
This is because they lost 2-3 to the Congolese in Calabar on September 6, and should both teams finish on equal number of points, CAF will take into consideration the team that scored the most away goals in the fixture involving both teams.
Also read: Amodu must qualify Nigeria for AFCON 2015
Once Nigeria hits three goals in Pointe Noire and does not concede more than one, all they need do to qualify is defeat South Africa in Uyo on November 19 to qualify for the final tournament.
In November 2009, Amodu faced the same challenge, when the Super Eagles needed to defeat Kenya in Nairobi and hope Tunisia did not win in Mozambique to reach the 2010 FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa.
The Eagles won the match 3-2, and qualified for the Copa Mundial.
As for the South African challenge, Amodu led the team to beat South Africa home and away in the preliminary race for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
With Nigeria’s best legs certain to be part of the fight for shirts for the Congo match, Amodu believes it is a mountain that can be surmounted.
“If Congo can come here and score three goals, nothing stops us going to Congo to score three or more goals.”
The 56 –year old tactician will have the assistance of Salisu Yusuf (a brilliant young trainer who steered Kano Pillars to back-to-back wins in the Nigeria Premier League, distinguished himself at Enyimba FC and is presently excelling at El-Kanemi Warriors FC, where he is the only coach playing ‘home’ matches away from home), Gbenga Ogunbote (the brain behind Sunshine Stars FC’s meteoric rise to national and international prominence) and Aloysius Agu (one of the best goalkeepers in Nigeria history who has shone in similar position previously).
The match in Brazzaville comes up only a day short of 20 years to when Amodu first leg the Eagles out, in a 1-0 defeat by England in a high –profile friendly at Wembley Stadium in London, and a day more than five years to when he stood tall in Nairobi, after the Eagles earned a place in the first FIFA World Cup finals on African soil.
“We have done it before. We will do it again.”The man who is stepping into the saddle for his fifth stint with the Super Eagles is distinctly positive.
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