FIFA U-20 World Cup silver medalist, Waidi Akanni claims the Super Eagles have become so unreliable and so will require a miracle to win AFCON title in Ivory Coast.
Akanni expressed apprehension regarding the Super Eagles’ chances at the upcoming 2023 Côte d’Ivoire Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
Despite being ranked sixth on the continent and considered among the favorites alongside Morocco, Egypt, Senegal, Algeria, and hosts Ivory Coast, Akanni believes the team faces challenges just two weeks before the tournament kicks off on January 13.
Highlighting specific areas of concern, Akanni emphasized the need for improvement in the midfield, defense, and goalkeeping departments.
A member of Nigeria’s bronze medal-winning U-20 1985 FIFA World Youth Championship team, he stressed the importance of predictability in a team, expressing doubts about the Super Eagles’ pedigree.
Expressing his reservations about the team’s reliability, Akanni told the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, via Igbere TV, “Winning AFCON will be a miracle for Nigeria. It would be presumptuous of me to expect Super Eagles to come out tops at the championship.”
““My expectations are the same whenever Super Eagles play; they have become very unreliable. I won’t expect much from them because I don’t want to be disappointed,”
He further commented on the challenge of predictability, stating, “One of the elements of a team is predictability; I can’t predict them because I don’t know their pedigree.”
Akanni also suggested that the coaching staff missed an opportunity by not including home-based players in the final squad, advocating for a more inclusive approach.
He pointed out the difficulty in assembling a full squad with players involved in the European season and believed that home-based players could have added depth and competition to the team.
He added “It has always been the same for AFCON with African countries because of the European season. It’s difficult to get a full house of players as a group till about a week before AFCON.
“I think the coaches should have given some home-based players the opportunity to compete for some positions, not only goalkeepers.”
Nigeria, three-time winners of the AFCON, is drawn in Group A alongside hosts Ivory Coast, Guinea-Bissau, and Equatorial Guinea.