Having missed out of the last two editions of the Africa Cup of Nations back-to-back in 2015 and 2017, Super Eagles Franco-German Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr, insisted yesterday that Nigeria must pick all six points at stake in the AFCON 2019 qualifying clash with Libya to stand any chance of topping the group.
Eagles are playing Libya’s Mediterranean Knights on the Match-day Three of the AFCON 2019 at the Akwa Ibom Stadium in Uyo on Saturday and follow up with the reverse fixture in Sfax, Tunisia four days later.
But after rounding up the team’s Thursday training in Uyo, Rohr made it clear to Eagles that nothing short of outright victory in both matches will be good enough for Nigeria’s aspiration to return to the summit of football in the continent.
“I believe we have the players here to earn a decent result and then go and give their all in Libya for another credible outcome.
“We need the points now; we cannot pretend about that. If we pick the points in these two games, we will be very close to the AFCON ticket,” stressed the gaffer who is going to miss the presence of his inspirational captain, John Mikel Obi.
He admitted that it was great that after Nigeria dropped all Match-day One opening round three points to South Africa’s Bafana Bafana, Super Eagles went to Seychelles to grab maximum points.
“It was good winning in Seychelles the way we did. We got the result we needed and it should serve as a good motivation to continue winning when we play Libya,” Rohr noted.
Also speaking on similar note, President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Melvin Pinnick, called on the three-time African champions to give joy to the country’s teeming football lovers by pocketing all the three points on Saturday.
“It is important that we win in Uyo on Saturday in order to fly with the same momentum to Tunisia for the return leg.
“Victory in Seychelles last month has restored our campaign and we must capitalise on the good feeling to get close to a ticket. Victory in the two matches will not only take us closer to 2019 AFCON ticket, it will provide us with the verve we need to go and win in South Africa in November.”
South Africa defeated Nigeria 2-0 in Uyo on the opening day of the qualifying series in June 2017, and it is a result that still rankles with the average Nigerian football fan.
Meanwhile, group leaders Libya has now opted to fly into Nigeria today as against the earlier plan of arriving Uyo yesterday.
The delegation is scheduled to arrive the Ibom International Airport in Uyo aboard a chartered aircraft this morning.
Referee Jean-Jacques Ndala Ngambo, alongside compatriots Olivier Safari Kabene (Assistant Referee 1), Nabina Blaise Sebutu (Assistant Referee 2) and Malala Kabanga Yannick (Reserve Referee) – all from the Democratic Republc of Congo arrived Lagos yesterday and will be flown into Uyo this morning.
The match commissioner, Mr. Andy Quame from Liberia, as well as South African Dan Van Vuuren (security officer) and Malian Koman Coulibaly (referee assessor) will also arrive in Uyo today.