Nigeria need self-belief to make Russia 2018
Nigeria need self-belief to qualify for a third consecutive World Cup finals, despite not being one of the top seeds at Friday’s third round qualifying draw, the team’s coach has said.
The Super Eagles — three times African champions — failed to make the last Africa Cup of Nations and also crashed out of qualifying for next year’s finals.
Salisu Yusuf’s side now face an uphill battle to make Russia in 2018, with Algeria, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Senegal and Tunisia potential opponents when the Africa draw is made in Cairo.
But the caretaker coach said with the right attitude, his players can overcome the challenge.
“We may not be one of the top seeds for the qualifiers but that does not mean we are not good enough to qualify for the World Cup,” he told AfricanFootball.com.
Players needed to forget the AFCON disappointment, he said, assessing there was enough to indicate Nigeria have “the quality and a bright future” to build on.
“It now means we have to beat one of the top seeds to be in Russia and to do that we must have the right mentality and believe in ourselves and the team that we can do that,” he added.
Yusuf, 54, led Nigeria in recent friendly wins against Mali and Luxembourg and has staked his claim on the job on a permanent basis.
Nigerian football is in desperate need of a boost after the recent sudden deaths of former coaches Stephen Keshi and Shuaibu Amodu earlier this month.
Yusuf said his crop of young players were keen to prove the critics wrong and get to the World Cup finals in two years’ time.
Nigeria have played six times in the finals and reached the knockout stages on three occasions.