Captain Mikel John Obi has assured that the Super Eagles will take to the pitch of the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium on Saturday determined to earn all three points in the World Cup qualifying match against Algeria.
The 29–year old midfielder told thenff.com on Friday morning that all the players appreciate the importance of this particular game and its ramifications for Nigeria’s march to a sixth FIFA World Cup finals.
“We all know what this match means, why we have to give everything. Yes, we started the race well by winning in Zambia, but we have to approach this match even more seriously. The Algerians will come with determination and they will play hard, but we will play harder.
“The World Cup is the biggest stage; every player wants to be there. I am happy we have such a young and energetic team. I played at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014 but there are many of these players who have never been to the World Cup. They want to be there.”
The dogged playmaker insisted that the team is looking forward to nothing less than victory against the invading Fennecs.
“Three points; that is what we will be playing for. We are committed and the visit of the Vice President (Professor Yemi Osinbajo) to our training in Abuja has motivated us even more.”
Nigeria represented Africa at the 1994, 1998, 2002, 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cup finals, reaching the Round of 16 in 1994, 1998 and 2014.
Nigeria and Algeria were Africa’s best teams at the last World Cup finals, in Brazil, each eliminated in the Round of 16 on the same day: Nigeria fell to France and Algeria were pipped by Germany.
The rivalry between Nigeria and Algeria at senior level is one of the fiercest in African football.
Nigeria beat Algeria to win her first Africa Cup of Nations in 1980; 10 years later, Algeria beat Nigeria to win her first Cup of Nations.
Algeria beat Nigeria to qualify for her first FIFA World Cup – Spain 1982; Nigeria beat Algeria to qualify for her first FIFA World Cup – USA 1994.
The first meeting between both teams, at the All-Africa Games that Nigeria hosted in 1973, ended 2-2. Algeria enjoyed a three –match winning streak against Nigeria between October 1981 and March 1982, but Nigeria has won the last four confrontations between both nations.
The Super Eagles have never lost a World Cup qualifying home match outside of Lagos. And they have lost only one out of six World Cup qualifying matches played in the month of November, winning the remaining five.
The Algerians hit Uyo on Thursday evening with a delegation of 61 persons, aboard a chattered flight, and will have the official training on the pitch of Godswill Akpabio International Stadium on Friday evening. They were received at the Ibom International Airport by NFF Deputy General Secretary, Dr. Emmanuel Ikpeme and protocol officer, Emmanuel Ayanbunmi.
The match officials, led by Hassan Osama Atta Ibrahim El Manan (match commissioner from Sudan) slept in Lagos on Thursday, to hit Uyo on Friday.
The referee is Gambian Bakary Papa Gassama, with Jean-Claude Birumushahu (Burundi) as assistant referee 1; Marwa Range (Kenya) as assistant referee 2 and; Maudo Jallow (Gambia) as fourth official. Jean-Olivier Mbera from Gabon will serve as referee assessor and Kenyan Nicholas Chumba Musonye will be security officer.
The match kicks off at 5pm on Saturday.
EAGLES’ WORLD CUP MATCHES IN NOVEMBER
8 Nov 1969: Nigeria 2 Morocco 0 (Ibadan)
12 Nov 1977: Nigeria 0 Tunisia 1 (Lagos)
4 Nov 1984: Liberia 0 Nigeria 1 (Monrovia)
9 Nov 1996: Nigeria 2 Burkina Faso 0 (Lagos)
14 Nov 2009: Kenya 2 Nigeria 3 (Nairobi)
13 Nov 2013: Nigeria 2 Ethiopia 0 (Calabar)