AFCON TICKET: We Have to Survive Today's Battle- Mikel
THE hope of the Super Eagles to qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), would be ascertained today as they confront the Pharaohs of Egypt in a reverse fixture billed for the Borg El-Arab Stadium, Alexandria.
With the withdrawal of Chad from the qualification campaign, today's game has become a make or break one for the Samson Siasia-piloted side.
The Eagles were a few seconds away from victory last Friday at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna, courtesy of Etebo Oghenekaro's 60th minute strike, before AS Roma striker, Mohammed Salah struck during stoppage time.
Egypt maintains lead in group G with four points as Nigeria follows with two points after the Confederation of African Football (CAF), had deducted all points earned from the games involving Chad.
To Mikel Obi, Nigeria's new captain, the Eagles are going for a battle today as the 2017 AFCON ticket will apparently be won and lost in Alexandria. A draw could however, Â keep the Eagles hope alive, as they have a home game left against Tanzania (in September), but will the Pharaohs who have missed three AFCON tournaments in a row, falter again moreso before their teeming fans? ''It's a massive battle that we are going for and there should be no illusion about it. We have to face reality and everyone has to give more than 100 per cent because we just have to qualify for the Cup of Nations.
"We have to go to Alexandria and fight with everything we have. There are still matches to play and we have confidence that we will earn the ticket," the Chelsea star had told our correspondent after the game in Kaduna.
Meanwhile, Egypt coach, Hector Cuper believes the Eagles will give his men a fight of their lives today.Â "We played a good game in Nigeria but so did they. We had some lapses and we will fix those before the next match. We need shots at their goal and have to get there quicker and more often.
"Nigeria will come to Cairo and they want all three points, this means they must take risks. We respect them but are also ready for them," Cuper said.
Meanwhile,Â AS the Super Eagles file out today against the Pharaohs of Egypt in the reverse fixture of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier in Alexandria, the Inspector-General of Police, Mr Solomon Arase has expressed optimism that the Eagles will come out unscathed.
"We still have a lot of chances. Our boys played well (in Kaduna); that was a little slip. That should be expected in a match like that but I am sure we are going to qualify," Arase told our correspondent in Abuja.
Also, Nasarawa State Commissioner of Police, Sani Muhammed, believes it is not yet over for the Eagles as far as the 2017 AFCON is concerned. "Hope is not lost. Surprisingly, they (Eagles) played well. I think if they had gone away with 1-0, complacency might have set in but as it is now, they are going to push the opponent away in Egypt to more pressure.''