Algerians throng Eagles’ hotel
• Iheanacho gets opportunity to lead attack
• Match kicks off 8:30 p.m.
Algerians massed at the Super Eagles’ Novotel Hotels and Resorts camp in Constantine yesterday to catch a glimpse of the players, who dimmed their stars in the race for the Russia 2018 World Cup.
At the beginning of the group phase of the Russia 2018 World Cup qualifiers last year, many followers of African football expected Algeria to win Group B ahead of Cameroun, Nigeria and Zambia due to the array of stars in the team. But that was not the case as after five matches, the Fennecs are last on the table with their stars only able to garner one point.
Yesterday in Constantine, the Algerian football fans had kind words for Mikel, Victor Moses, Iwobi and Iheanacho, among others, praising them for sacrificing to see Nigeria through to Russia, something they said Mahrez, Slimani and others did not do.
The Eagles had the first feel of the Stade Mohamed-Hamlaoui, Constantine, venue of today’s game, by 8:00 p.m. The match will kick off by 8:30 p.m. Speaking on the match, Super Eagles’ Captain, John Obi Mikel revealed that the team is determined to maintain its unbeaten run in the qualifying series.
He said the result of the game would help psyche them up for the friendly clash with Argentina on Tuesday, which is one of the tune up games lined up for the team ahead of the 2018 World Cup.
“I have belief that we can reach new heights with this team. The boys are so committed. The coaching crew is made up of very matured and brilliant people who respect the players. We are onto a good thing. We keep our heads and play at our best level. Each and every one of us is determined,” he said.
Although Super Eagles’ Coach, Gernot Rohr is keeping his formation close to his chest, from the recent training sessions, Leicester City Star, Kelechi Iheanacho may lead a three-pronged attack that also comprises Alex Iwobi and Anthony Nwakaeme.
Everton of England star, Henry Onyekuru may come in some time in the game, while Mikel, Etebo and John Ogu could be deployed in the midfield. There is not likely to be any change in the central defence manned by Leon Balogun and William Troost-Ekong, but in the absence of Elderson Echiejile, Tyrone Ebuehi is giving Ola Aina a keen contest for the left back position.
Meanwhile, some Nigerian soccer fans have told Coach Rohr to parade a team that is capable of beating their hosts.The last time Super Eagles lost to Algeria was 27 years ago in the final of Algiers ‘90 Africa Cup of Nations. It ended 1-0 in favour of Algeria.
Although, the result in today’s match will be inconsequential, the head coach of Divine Star FC and Oasis FC of Lagos, Uche Igwe wants the Eagles to go all out and record a win to maintain their unbeaten record in the qualifiers to Russia.
Speaking with The Guardian during the week at the National Stadium, Lagos, Igwe said he would feel bad if the Super Eagles lost the game against Algeria. “As a true Nigerian football lover, I won’t be happy if the Super Eagles lost the match to Algeria,” he said. “If I am in position of coach Gernot Rohr, I will use the match against Algeria to test the ability of some upcoming players like Ola Aina, Olarewaju Kayode and many more players. A time will come when the likes of Mikel Obi, Odion Ighalo and Victor Moses will retire from the Super Eagles. This is the time to blend the upcoming talented players with the older ones,” he stated.
Also speaking with The Guardian, the coach of Peace United Football Academy, Peace Odoh said, “Nigeria has a good team that is capable of beating Algeria. I am proud of their performance in the previous matches, but I want them to be stronger and more accurate with their shots against Algeria.”
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