Ahead of Nigeria’s 2022 FIFA World Cup playoffs with Ghana next month, former Super Eagles Captain, Austin Jay Jay Okocha has warned that any match between both countries is a difficult one that must be given all it takes for the country’s flag to be hoisted in Qatar.
Okocha insisted that the game is more of a pride and a bragging right one that Super Eagles can not afford to fail in the mission to get the ticket.
“Ghana versus Nigeria match is never an easy one. It is more about the rivalry, it is a pride match and a bragging right one,” began Okocha who is a legend of the senior Nigerian team.
Speaking in Lagos yesterday, Okocha said it doesn’t matter whether Eagles play beautiful or ugly football to get the ticket.
“For me, what is most important is to get the ticket. It doesn’t matter how, even if we don’t play beautiful football, what is important is getting the ticket to the World Cup in Qatar. It is the result that matters,” stressed Okocha who was a pundit for SuperSport during the last AFCON in Cameroon.
He pleaded with Nigerians not to judge Super Eagles by their early exit from the AFCON 2021.
“We have a very good team. We just don’t have to judge Super Eagles with the Tunisian match at the last AFCON in Cameroon. We have to review all the matches they played and take the positive and correct the negatives if there were any.
“For me, the signs are there that we have the team to take us to where we want to be in global football,” observed the former midfielder whose void since retiring has been unable to be filled.
He admitted that Eagles raised the expectations of Nigerians with their 100 per cent win in the group stage of the tournament in Cameroon.
“I felt bad Eagles exited AFCON the way they did after winning all three games of the group stage.
“Eagles raised our hopes in expectations of good run in the tournament but unfortunately things didn’t go the way we expected.
However, I expect the team to learn from their outing in Cameroon and hopefully use the World Cup playoffs with Ghana to correct those mistakes.”
While praising the addition of Emmanuel Amuneke to the Super Eagles coaching crew, Okocha believes that the former Tanzania Head Coach was going to add value to the bench
“Amuneke’s coming to Eagles coaching crew is a good addition. We all know how qualified he is and the value he’s bringing to the team.
“He was successful In Tanzania and his inclusion is a positive one for Nigeria. It show our intentions in getting things right ahead of the playoffs.
Ghana will host the first leg of the playoff in Cape Coast on March 24 before the second leg at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja on March 27 with the aggregate winner of the two legs picking the ticket to join the other four qualifiers to represent Africa at the Mundial to hold in the Middle East for the first time between November and December this year.