Super Eagles’ captain, Ahmed Musa has joined the Nigerian team’s coach, Gernot Rohr in exuding a ‘winning mentality’ ahead of Saturday’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier away to Benin Republic, megasportsaena.com reports.
With only few hours now separating the team from their fifth match in the race to Cameroon 2022, and standing in need of only a draw to make it with a game to spare, Musa and Rohr declared emphatically that they will be all out for maximum points in Porto Novo.
The Eagles top Group L with eight points, following wins against Benin and Lesotho as well as two draws with Sierra Leone in the first stage of the qualifiers, but Musa and Rohr insist they will go for the three points when they come face to face with their West Coast neighbours on Saturday.
With Sierra Leone, who are on only three points, scheduled to tango bottom-placed Lesotho at 3pm GMT, while Nigeria and Benin due to kick off at 6pm GMT, it means the corresponding tie between the other group rivals would have ended before the group leaders take to the pitch at Stade Charles de Gaulle in Porto Novo.
A draw in Maseru will send Nigeria through to Cameroon 2022 even before they battle their fellow-West Africans, which means Saturday’s game could end up being a mere formality for the Eagles, yet Musa and Rohr stressed that they are not interested to know what will happen in Maseru, as they would rather concentrate on achieving a double over The Squirrels.
In the earlier fixture between both teams, which held at Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo in November, The Squirrels shocked the Eagles with a goal inside the first five minutes, before goals by Victor Osimhen, who converted a penalty after Ola Aina was upended in the box, and Samuel Kalu’s solo run gave Nigeria a 2-1 win.
They followed up with a 4-2 defeat of Lesotho in Maseru four days later to fly top of the pool, but draws in their home-and-away duels with Sierra Leone a year later, following a long hiatus caused by the coronavirus pandemic, delayed qualification for Rohr’s tam and drew the sharp criticism from Nigerian fans and the media, especially when the Eagles gave up a four-goal lead to draw 4-4 in their home game against The Leone Stars in Benin City.
However, Rohr has now spoken about a revival for the squad and stressed the importance of his side rediscovering their winning mentality, as they go into Saturday’s away game, which will be followed by the last clash at home against Lesotho on Tuesday in Lagos and then the FIFA 2022 World Cup qualifiers.
A draw in Porto Novo will guarantee Nigeria’s 19th appearance at the African continental soccer showpiece, which they have won three times, secured second spot four times and finished third eight times in 18 previous participations, but Musa stressed that he and his colleagues will not settle for shared points, insisting that they are going for victory.
Musa concluded: “We are not looking at what happens in Lesotho. It is not necessary for us to bother ourselves with what they play. Our focus is to get the three points in Porto Novo and wrap up qualification.
“Three points will get us to Cameroon no matter what anyone plays, and that is what we are determined to get;” and Rohr interjected: “I am keen for the winning mentality; we need it very much and when we rediscover it, we must keep it.”