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HomeSportsAFCON 2023 qualifiers: Expectations high as Super Eagles face Sierra Leone

AFCON 2023 qualifiers: Expectations high as Super Eagles face Sierra Leone

On Wednesday, the Super Eagles camp had a full house. All the invited players for Sunday’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Sierra Leone have arrived and are in training.

This means Napoli’s Victor Osimhen who pulled the Serie A side to their first Scudetto in 33 years is set to go. Just like Taiwo Awoniyi, who single-handedly saved Nottingham Forest from relegation from the Premier League.

They will be expected to score the goals that will down the Leone Stars.

“I think Victor Osimhen, Alex Iwobi and Taiwo Awoniyi will definitely shine.

“Divine Nwachukwu, as well. He will surprise people if he gets enough playing time. I am sure of it,” Clinton McDubus, a top football analyst and podcaster tells us.

For Nigeria, there is all to play for.

Guinea Bissau have gone top of Group A following their 1-0 victory over Sao Tome & Principe.

The win takes them up to 10 points after five games with a one-point lead over Jose Peseiro’s men.

They will confirm a place in their fourth successive AFCON if Sierra Leone fails to beat Nigeria in the other group game on Sunday.

This presents a challenge for Nigerian players, who have been accused in the past of not performing to their optimum best in the green-white-green.

In McDubus’ opinion, it is not that straightforward.

“Many things make it harder to perform in national team football- less time training together to build on-pitch chemistry compared to club football, more rigid systems due to the demands of knockout/tournament football, players having to adapt quickly to unfamiliar systems and teammates, amongst other things,” he explains.

“In Nigeria’s case, there is also the lack of a defined playing philosophy, which often leads to too much tinkering.

“On the part of the players, the only real motivation to give your all for the Nigerian national team is passion for the country.

“This is not often as rewarding for players’ careers as performances for their clubs, where they get paid well and where injuries are handled more professionally. Going the extra mile for the national side has its risks, and players may choose to give only bare minimum and avoid these risks,” he added.

However, he does expect that with most leagues around Europe on break, it might be time to see the best from Peseiro’s squad.

“With the European season over, the players will want to sign out on a high, without those considerations holding them back.

“We should definitely see them at their best and most devastating,” McDubus adds.

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