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Eagles arrive, hot for Zimbabwe

Posted by Ademola Olajire on 2005/10/02 | Views: 643 |

Eagles arrive, hot for Zimbabwe


Nigerians look expectantly to Saturday’s World Cup 2006 qualifier against Zimbabwe as members of the 28-man squad invited by coaches Austin Eguavoen, Samson Siasia, Daniel Amokachi and Ike Shorounmu start to arrive camp today.

Nigerians look expectantly to Saturday’s World Cup 2006 qualifier against Zimbabwe as members of the 28-man squad invited by coaches Austin Eguavoen, Samson Siasia, Daniel Amokachi and Ike Shorounmu start to arrive camp today.

The showdown at the National Stadium, Abuja will determine whether the Nigeria Eagles, finalists at the 1994, 1998 and 2002 World Cup, would be playing at the 18th edition of the championship in Germany next summer. However, victory would not be enough, until news arrive from Kigali, Rwanda that the Palancas Negras of Angola had failed to beat the Wasps at the Amahoro Stadium in a game billed to run simultaneously with the event in Abuja.

A nation of approximately 150 million people, there’s hardly any other point of convergence for the culturally, politically, religiously and socially dichotomized citizenry of Nigeria than the round leather game. Armchair economists are already primed to calculate the losses that would accrue to the country should the Super Eagles fail to reach their fourth successive World Cup.

But apart from economic impact, the government would have to deploy resources to deal with the restlessness of an active youth population, in a country where massive oil deposits have turned into a monumental curse rather than tremendous blessing.

Football is what the youth have to keep them off the track of insurgency and when the Super Eagles are playing, religious, cultural and social disparities are thrown to the dogs as all join in celebration of the one positive article in which Nigeria has proved over time to be capable of matching the world. Eventual qualification for the World Cup finals in Germany would be construed to be ample anniversary gift for the country’s 45th Independence celebrations, which began yesterday.

Skipper Austin Okocha returns to the team after missing the last qualifier in Oran, where a rampant squad overhauled the hosts 5-2. The midfield marvel has played in only four of the nine qualifying matches, as he appears to be winding down his 12-year international career. But he was in action mid-week for English Premiership side, Bolton Wanderers in a 2-1 away win over Lokomotiv Plovdiv in Bulgaria, which took the Reebok giants to the second round of the Uefa Cup. Aggressive marksman Julius Aghahowa was also in Uefa Cup action, signaling recovery from a long-term injury that has accounted for his missing the last two qualifiers against Angola and Algeria. But the irrepressible Obafemi Martins is knocked out by injury, and super sub Nwankwo Kanu could struggle to be fit as he lingers on a hamstring complaint. Support striker Stephen Makinwa scored a brace in his team, Palermo of Italy’s 4-0 win in Cyprus also in the Uefa Cup, and though Everton of England are out after a 5-2 aggregate loss, defender Joseph Yobo was his hard working and confident self. Team coach Austin Eguavoen said on Friday: "We are ready to open the camp, and work will start immediately. We all are looking forward to a beautiful and rewarding Saturday, October 8". And so is every Nigerian!



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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.