BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
When the second string Super Eagles line out on Wednesday to face Sudan, the players will be aiming to get their names into record books by being the first set of Nigerian players to get to the final of the African Nations Championship.
Beyond that, they have a date with destiny. They have to avenge the Super Eagles’ miss of tickets to both 2012 and 2015 Africa Cup of Nations final tournaments.
Sudan, the team Nigeria will face in Wednesday’s semi-final match of the Africa Cup of Nations, was remotely responsible for Nigeria’s eliminations from the two tournaments.
When Nigeria conceded a last minute equaliser against Guinea in Abuja in the last match day for the qualification for 2012 Africa Nations Cup, Sudan was the beneficiary of Nigeria’s slip.
With all matches of the last match day played simultaneously, the Nigeria – Guinea match stretched into six minutes of added time with score line standing at 2-1 in Nigeria’s favour.
But out of poor calculations, the Super Eagles had believed they needed a two goal margin to get through, they launched an all-squad offensive, leaving the rear bare and the Guineans caught them on the counter to level scores at 2-2.
In Sudan, the home side had lost 0-2 to visiting Ghana and had been eliminated. But they got back into reckoning when minutes after their initial elimination, Nigeria whose home game stretched into added time conceded a last minute goal thus exchanging positions with Sudan as one of the best runners-up teams in the qualifiers.
The then head coach of Sudan, Mohammed Abdulla Magzoub, known as “Mazda”, who was a course mate of Sports Village Square editor-in-chief at a FIFA/CIES Diploma course at Cairo University made a mountain out of Nigeria’s misfortune.
Sudan’s former coach, Mohammed Abdulla Magzoub and Kunle Solaja of Sports Village Square at the FIFA/CIES Sports Management course at the Cairo University, Egypt.
He was also the coach that qualified Sudan for the current African Nations Championship before Croatia’s Zdravko Logarusić took over the team.
Also for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations which Nigeria missed owing to another last match day 2-2 home draw, there was also a Sudan link. Had Sudan won its home match against Congo on that same day, Nigeria would had qualify instead of Congo.
Beating Sudan will thus avenge the two misses Nigeria had in two of the last four editions of Africa’s premier competition.