Okocha has advised the Super Eagles to take the match against Ghana seriously. The former Super Eagles midfielder warns that beating the Black Stars will not be easy.
With the Africa Cup of Nations over, the focus is now on the World Cup playoffs. Five countries would pick up the ticket to represent Africa in Qatar, and the Super Eagles of Nigeria hope to pick up one of those tickets.
The draw was done last month and pitched the Super Eagles against the Black Stars of Ghana. Many believe the Black Stars would roll over for the Nigerian side. The performance of the Ghanaian team at the just concluded Africa Cup of Nations suggests that it would be an easy tie for the Super Eagles. Pundits are well aware of the rivalry between the two countries have advised that caution be applied.
Nigeria enjoys a rich history with Ghana, and Austin ‘jay jay’ Okocha has warned that despite the poor form of Ghana at the Africa Cup of Nations, the Black Stars are no pushovers.
Okocha advises seriousness against Ghana
The Black Stars of Ghana had a poor outing at the Africa Cup of Nations, where they failed to win any match and crashed out of the competition. It has seen many write them off as contenders for a ticket to the World Cup in Qatar.
Despite their poor outing, Austin Okocha has warned that the mindset deployed is risky, and any thought of the tie being a walkover is walking a slippery slope. Okocha warns that matches between the two countries have never been easy, and the Super Eagles must give it what it takes to see Nigeria fly its flag in Qatar.
For Okocha, this game goes beyond the ticket to Qatar. Pride and bragging rights are at stake. The former BBC Africa Footballer of the Year insists that it is a mission the Super Eagles cannot afford to fail.
Okocha says Ghana versus Nigeria is never easy. The rivalry between the two countries is intense, with pride and bragging right at the core of the rivalry. According to Okocha, the style of play does not matter. He insists that whether the Super Eagles play beautifully or ugly, all that matters is the ticket.
The former Super Eagles midfielder was adamant that whether they play well or not, they must do everything possible to pick the ticket to Qatar.
Forget AFCON, focus on the future
After the victory over Egypt at the Africa Cup of Nations, the Super Eagles of Nigeria were tipped to win the tournament. The team failed to go beyond the second round, where they lost to the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia.
The early exit from the competition cast doubts over the Super Eagles chances of qualifying for the World Cup. Ghana’s performance at AFCON has inspired Nigerians to believe that qualification is possible.
Okocha has pleaded with Nigerians not to judge the Super Eagles by their early exit from the tournament. He asked Nigerians to take confidence from their performance, saying that the Super Eagles have the quality to soar over the stars.
The former Super Eagles midfielder said he saw signs that the team could reach where Nigerians want in global football. Okocha confessed that the performance of the Super Eagles in the group stage of AFCON, where they had 100% raised expectations.
The first leg of the playoffs will be played in Cape Coast on March 24, while the second leg comes up at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja on March 27.
This article was most recently revised and updated 12 months ago