BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
They did it before, can they do it again? Super Eagles should be on redemption mission on Monday at the Estadio 24 de Setembro in Bissau. They are still smarting at the surprised 0-1 home loss to far lesser rated Guinea Bissau who are now on the driver’s seat of the Group A qualifier for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.
Another stumble, and following Sierra Leone’s 2-0 defeat of Sao Tome & Principe on Sunday will confine the Super Eagles to a struggling position to even retain their current second position on the log.
With six points, Nigeria will just be a point ahead of Sierra Leone who will host them in the next match-day.
The Super Eagles will attempt to re-enact the form that saw them bouncing back within few days of a similar 0-1 loss to Central African Republic (CAR) and winning the reversed leg, 2-0 in Douala, Cameroon.
But the difference is that Guinea Bissau will be truly at home unlike CAR who were constrained to play their home match away from home in Cameroon.
“We have to be at our best against the host in this next match but its quite unfortunate that we could not cancel out the team after that first half goal we conceded. But we still have the rest of the matches in our hands because we learn new things every day,” Alex Iwobi said just before the team’s departure Sunday morning.
Team coach who has been under pressure from teeming football fans, Jose Peseiro will be hoping for a better outing on Monday night.
“I think we played very well in the first 30 minutes but didn’t score,” noted the Portuguese tactician. “It showed that our team is better than Guinea-Bissau. I can say bad luck was part of the reason we didn’t win.
“Sometimes the best teams can lose games this way, so everything went bad for us. We deserved much more because we created chances and pushed the opponent back and could have scored five, six goals… it happens in football.”
He added, “If we put up the same performance like we did today we can beat them 3-0 at their place because one team can’t always have good luck all the time.”
Guinea-Bissau coach Baciro Cande, meanwhile, wants his team to forget Friday’s triumph and focus on securing another positive result against their heavyweight opponents.
“For the second leg, we shall go back to plan how best to play Nigeria. Of course, we will be going for another victory. We still respect the Eagles despite our victory,” said Cande.
Super Eagles are likely to be without defender Kevin Akpoguma, who suffered a head injury in Friday’s match and was replaced by Semi Ajayi.