Captain William Ekong said on Thursday that the Super Eagles will go all out for a handsome victory over visiting Falcons and True Parrots of Sao Tome and Principe at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo on Sunday as a welcome gift for Minister of Sports Development, Senator John Owan Enoh.
The new Gamesmaster-General of the Federation assumed office a couple of weeks ago, and has already been involved in matters of the three-time African champions, as he superintended a meeting with NFF bigwigs which agreed to an extension of the contract of Head Coach Jose Santos Santos.
“Yes, we have already qualified for the Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire, but we want to win this match for a number of reasons. We have a new Minister of Sports Development who has hit the ground running. It is good to welcome him with a great win.
“We also need to sustain a winning mentality ahead of the FIFA World Cup qualifiers starting in November. So, we are not going to be taking this game as a dead-rubber or whatever people choose to call it. It is another important match as far as we’re concerned.”
Nigeria, on 12 points and two ahead of second-placed Guinea Bissau, have already qualified for the finals, with only the group leadership to sort out after this weekend’s final-day games. Guinea Bissau’s Djurtus host third-placed and already-eliminated Sierra Leone in Bissau, and a win will take them to 13 points.
Victory for the Super Eagles in Uyo will take them to 15 points and top of the table no matter what happens in Bissau.
In their last outing at the Nest of Champions, the Super Eagles edged Benin Republic 2-1 in a 2021 AFCON qualifier on 13th November 2019. The Cheetahs scored first before Victor Osimhen and Samuel Kalu gave Nigeria victory.
Osimhen, who lead the AFCON 2023 qualifying campaign scorers’ sheet with seven goals, is among 23 players already sweating it out in the Akwa Ibom State capital for Sunday’s encounter, and will relish the opportunity to put daylight between him and other contenders for the campaign’s Goal King crown.
The Super Eagles played all their home matches in the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification series and the 2019 AFCON qualification series in Uyo, and were successful in both campaigns.
Sao Tome and Principe’s delegation of players and officials arrived in Uyo on Thursday.