Abuja - Sports enthusiasts on Monday in Abuja predicted victory for the Super Eagles against Ethiopia in the 2014 FIFA World Cup Play-off scheduled for October and November.
The draws for the play-off took place on Monday at the headquarters of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in Cairo, Egypt.
The draw was conducted by Gordon Savic, Head of FIFA World Cup and Olympic Qualifiers Competitions, with assistance from CAF Secretary-General Hicham El-Amrani.
Speaking on the draw, Musa Talle, the FCT Football Association Chairman, said Ethiopia would be handed their eighth defeat by the Eagles.
He however warned that the Ethiopians must not be underrated, adding "any team that has made it to the final round of the qualifiers must not be taken for granted.
"All teams at this stage are potential qualifiers for the World Cup final,’’ the FCT FA chairman said.
The sides have met on nine occasions with Nigeria coming out tops with seven wins, while Ethiopia won only once and drew the other.
Talle said the Super Eagles must approach the fixture with every seriousness it deserves and must leave no stone unturned to ensure victory.
"I will advise the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) to organise series of friendly matches, both within and outside Africa, for the Super Eagles.
"This will enable them play more as a team rather than as individuals.
"Playing individually at their different clubs and playing collectively as a team are two different things,’’ he said.
The football association chairman urged the NFA to assist team head coach Stephen Keshi and his technical crew with everything they would need to enable them succeed.
"Whatever assistance Keshi will need, be it financial, moral or otherwise, must be given to him,’’ he said.
Talle however warned the technical crew to do away with any sentiment in the selection of players.
"Any player, whether home-based or foreign-based, and is doing very well in his club should be called up to make contributions to the team.
"Unfair selection of players usually lead to the failure of the team,’’ he said.
Talle said he trusted that Keshi and the players would not let the country down.
He also called on Nigerians from all religious groups to collectively pray for the team’s success.
The FCT FA Secretary, Ibrahim Abdullahi, said Ethiopia should not be seen as an easy team to beat.
"We must not be too quick to jubilate over the draws because the Ethiopians are a formidable team.
"If you look at how they emerged from their group, you will understand my point.
"They stopped the likes of South Africa and Botswana, and beat the Central Africa Republic (CAR) 2-1 on their home ground.
"So, even if we will be playing away first in Ethiopia, home advantage is no guarantee that we will qualify. We must take both the home and away matches very seriously,’’ he said.
Abdullahi urged the NFA to maintain the U.J Esuene Stadium in Calabar as the home ground for the Super Eagles.
"I hope the Super Eagles will play the crucial home game at Calabar, because it has been a good hunting ground for them so far.
"The Abuja National Stadium will not be appropriate for the match because the fans in Abuja are not as passionate as their counterparts in Calabar.
"We need a stadium that will be filled to capacity, and the location of the stadium in Abuja does not help in any way as it is not easily accessible,’’ he said.
Samuel Abimbola, a former Technical Adviser of Sunshine Stars Football Club of Akure, said he was sure the NFA and the team’s technical crew knew what was at stake.
He said he believed that Nigeria has what it takes to take on any team in the world.
"I was happy with the series of matches I have watched the team played so far, especially the friendly match against Burkina Faso where they showed their supremacy over the Stallions.
"It is good to see that the boys are back to their form, and I hope they maintain and sustain that high tempo going into this final qualifier,’’ the former national under-20 team assistant coach said.
Mohammed Aminu, a retired referee and a FIFA-badged instructor, said he had no doubts that Nigeria would qualify for the World Cup finals scheduled for Brazil.
He said that Nigeria had gone beyond the level of being afraid of playing any team in Africa, adding that Ethiopia should be the least of Super Eagles’ problem.
"So far so good, the road has been so smooth for the Super Eagles. We won the African Nations Cup. Whether we are third, fourth or fifth in Africa today, the fact is that we are the African champions.
"Ethiopia will not be a problem if we put our acts together and play as a family as we did at the AFCON. If we play as a team, we will not have any problems,’’ the retired referee said.
He urged the NFA not to interfere with the coach’s team selection.
"If we allow distractions that we usually witness when we have major competitions like this, then we may be putting the team in disarray and putting the technical team under intensive pressure.
"This will also affect the performance of the team. This is a time that everyone must shut his or her mouth up and allow the technical crew to do its job.
"Members of the technical crew were assigned the responsibility of coaching the national team and must be allowed to the work,’’ Aminu said.