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‘Super Eagles, give us this day’

Nigeria’s squad (back L-R) defender Kenneth Omeruo, defender Elderson Uwa Echiejile, goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi, defender Leon Balogun, defender William Troost-Ekong, midfielder John Obi Mikel, (L-R) midfielder Victor Moses, midfielder Ogenyi Onazi, forward Oghenekaro Etebo, forward Alex Iwobi and forward Kelechi Iheanacho pose for a group picture ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup African zone group B qualifying football match between Nigeria and Algeria at the Akwa Ibom State Stadium in Uyo on November 12, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI

Since Nigeria won her third AFCON title in South Africa in 2013 under late coach Stephen Keshi, qualification for the African showpiece has been a impossible task for the Super Eagles.

On two occasions, in 2015, and earlier this year, Nigeria was not present at the championship, following failures by the Eagles to book their tickets to Equatorial Guinea and Gabon respectively.

The race for the 2019 edition will begin today at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, where the Gernot Rohr-led Super Eagles will square up against the Bafana Bafana of South Africa, and Nigerians are talking.

Former Green Eagles winger, Adegoke Adelabu says the Eagles must be ready to attack the South Africans from every angle if they desired to fly higher this afternoon.

“Our players must be able to capitalize on the home advantage to wreck Bafana Bafana,” Adelabu told The Guardian yesterday. “They must prevent the South Africans from playing. Our boys must be ready to attack, especially from the wings with the likes of Ahmed Musa. I have read so many comments by the South Africans since they arrived for this match. My prayer is for the Eagles to give us the day,” Adelabu said.

In 2014, the Super Eagles were held to a 2-2 draw at home by the South Africans at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium in a final qualifier for the 2015 AFCON, a result, which denied Nigeria a place at the competition held in Equatorial Guinea.

This time, coach Rohr says he is confident the Bafana Bafana won’t unsettle his team. “I was not there when they played a 2-2 draw in 2014, and I don’t think my players will allow that happen this time,” Rohr said during the week. “We are not going to play for a draw. This group cannot afford to falter against South Africa.”

The Super Eagles remain unbeaten under Rohr’s tutelage in eight games, and will look to extend his winning streak to seven wins in nine matches this afternoon. However, some analysts have warned the Eagles to be wary of this South African team because of its intimidating credentials.

While the Eagles have been unbeaten in seven matches under Rohr, the Bafana Bafana have remained unbeaten in 17 consecutive matches.

The Bafana Bafana have not tasted defeat since losing 2-0 at home to Angola in an African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifier in October 2015.
Since then, they have beaten Egypt and Senegal‚ and drawn with African champions, Cameroon (twice) though all but one of those matches were at home.



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