Lagos - A poor showing in the just-ended Confederations Cup and resultant fall in global rankings by the senior men's national soccer team has dampened the mood of Nigeria fans ahead of a key match against rivals Ivory Coast.
The two sides will play the African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifier at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna on the back of contrasting fortunes.
An indifferent run of form in June culminated in Nigeria dropping four places down the Federation of International Football Associations world rankings to 35 while Ivory Coast remain 13th.
They are Africa's top-ranked side.
Understandably, Nigerian fans are worried ahead of the West African derby.
"Nigeria is my country, but I don't think our players stand a chance against Ivory Coast.
"The Ivorians play entertaining and flowing football as compared to Nigeria. I strongly feel that we will be humiliated," Musa Omogbenigun, one of Nigeria's most prominent fans said.
Nwora Uche, another fan echoed his sentiments.
He cited a leaky defence that conceded goals at the Confederations Cup in Brazil.
"Our defence leaks like a sieve! We are too porous at the back, and as such, we cannot hold back the marauding and sharp shooting Ivorian strikers," Uche said.
Nigeria conceded six goals in matches against Spain, Uruguay and little-known Tahiti in the three games they played before bowing out in the first round.
Amid the criticism, coach Stephen Keshi remained confident urging his side to exploit home advantage in this first leg before the return leg in Ivory Coast.
He however conceded the team's self-belief had to an extent taken a battering.
“Let me say I have absolute confidence in the players achieving the feat of defeating Ivory Coast but they must have more belief in themselves to achieve the set goal,” Keshi said.
Only locally-based players can play in the CHAN qualifiers and the finals scheduled for South Africa in January. - CAJ News