BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
They have their destiny in their hands. They can decide to have an early flight to Cote d’Ivoire 2023 or choose to suffer delayed flight or even an outright cancellation as common with some flights in Nigeria.
A win by the Super Eagles in this evening’s Group A Africa Cup of Nations qualifying duel against Sierra Leone on Monrovia, Liberia will not only give them the flight ticket, but also the swinging leadership of the group.
Even a draw will also be tolerable, as it would mean an elimination of Sierra Leone and automatic qualification of both Nigeria and Guinea Bissau. But then, Super Eagles would have lost prides as goal difference will be the advantage they get over lesser rated Guinea Bissau.
They therefore have a lot of lessons to learn from history as nothing is ever assured until the battle is over.
Lesson number one: The Super Eagles were four goals up within the opening 30 minutes of the match against Sierra Leone in Benin City .
Surprisingly, while just before half time, Sierra Leone pulled a goal back, the closing 18 minutes turned a huge drama. Within 14 minutes, Sierra Leone scored three goals to present one of the most dramatic comebacks in African football.
Lesson number two: No reasonable punter would have foreseen a lowly ranked Guinea Bissau beating Nigeria at home. More so, the goal came from open play. The Super Eagles have to rely on the lottery of penalty kick in the return match to regain part of their bruised ego.
Such lessons among others are enough to inform the Super Eagles that there is no easy day. The Sierra Leone Leone Stars are very desperate for the full points at stake.
Nigeria – Sierra Leone: Head-to-Head
- 8 Oct. 1949 (F) Sierra Leone 0-2 Nigeria
- 22 Apr.1961 (F) Sierra Leone 2-4 Nigeria
- 14 Oct. 1967(F) Sierra Leone1-1 Nigeria
- 27Jan.1968 (F) Nigeria 4-1 Sierra Leone
- 13 Feb.1971 (F) Nigeria 1-0 Sierra Leone
- 4 Dec. 1971(F) Sierra Leone 0-0 Nigeria
- 22 Nov.1972 (F) Sierra Leone 0-1 Nigeria
- 12 Dec.1972 (F) Nigeria 4-0 Sierra Leone
- 16 Oct.1976 (WCq) Sierra Leone 0-0 Nigeria
- 30 Oct. 1976 (WCq) Nigeria 6-2 Sierra Leone
- 12 Mar1977(Afconq) Sierra Leone1-1 Nigeria
- 26 Mar1977(Afconq) Nigeria 2- 0 Sierra Leone
- 27 Aug1977(Ecowas) Nigeria 2-0 Sierra Leone
- 4 Jul 1987 (Afconq) Nigeria 3-0 Sierra Leone
- 27 Oct.1979 (F) Sierra Leone 0-0 Nigeria
- 18 Jul.1987 (Afconq) SierraLeone 2-0 Nigeria
- 17 June2000 (WCq) Nigeria 2-0 Sierra Leone
- 21Apr.2001 (WCq) Sierra Leone 1-0 Nigeria
- 7 June.2008 (WCq) Sierra Leone 0-1 Nigeria
- 11 Oct.2008 (WCq) Nigeria 4-1 Sierra Leone
- 9 Feb.2011 (F) Nigeria 2-1 Sierra Leone
- 13 Nov 2020 Afconq) Nigeria 4-4 Sierra Leone
- 17 Nov. 2020 (Afconq) Sierra Leone 0-0 Nigeria
- 9 June 2022 (Afcon q) Nigeria 2-1 Sierra Leone