Super Eagles Captain, Ahmed Musa, said the team was not under pressure ahead of Saturday’s AFCON 2019 qualifying match against Bafana Bafana of South Africa in Johannesburg.
Musa stated this in an interview with newsmen on Wednesday shortly after the team rounded off its four-day training camp at the Stephen Keshi Stadium, Asaba.
He said all the players had resolved to put their “all” into the game, match like every other game, adding that the team would face the South Africans with a winning mentality.
“With regards to our game against South Africa, I can tell you that we are well-prepared. It is not going to be a different game. We are taking it like every other game that we have played.
“We are not under any pressure, because we are confident of securing qualification for the 2019 African Cup of Nations.
“As a team, we are united and play for each other. That is the most important thing in football.
“The South Africans don’t scare us; we know them very well, just as they know us too,” Musa said.
One of the three goalkeepers in camp, Daniel Akpeyi, corroborated Musa’s position on the team’s preparation for the Bafana Bafana encounter, saying “as you can see we have just rounded up of training here in Asaba.
“I can tell you that we are prepared. We do not have any problem facing the South Africans.
“As a team, our spirit is high and we are united in the task of securing qualification for AFCON 2019 and as such, the Bafana Bafana cannot stop us. We are prepared to surprise them in Johannesburg.”
The team’s coach, Gernot Rohr, told journalists that the camping in Asaba was a huge success as it had helped the team handlers to access the fitness of the players.
He said that there was no injury in the team at the moment, adding that all the players in camp were fit and ready to do battle with the Bafana Bafana.
“We have done our homework; we will go into the game with high spirit and victory on our mind. I can tell you that we have no injury problem at the moment; all the players are fit and are in high spirit.
“The camping here in Asaba has helped us a lot to look at the boys in camp, access their fitness and see how each of them is doing,” Rohr said.
However, the last training of the team in Asaba recorded a protest by over 300 football fans, who confronted security agents after they were shut out of the stadium.
The Super Eagles had a two-hour light training in closed doors contrary to the team’s management earlier plan to make the final day of training open to fans.
The angry fans shouted for over an hour in protest against what they described as “unfair treatment by management of the team”.
One of them, Uche Ezendu, a trader, claimed that he closed his shop to come and watch the Super Eagles, but was disappointed after he and many other fans were denied entry into the stadium.
“We came here as patriotic Nigerians to watch the boys and wish them success before they depart for South Africa, but they locked us out. This is very unfair. Why the closed-door training?” he queried.
Another fan, Adebimpe Afolabi, a tailor, said he came all the way from the neighbouring Ogwashi-Uku to watch and cheer the Nigerian team in training, but was shocked that fans were not allowed in.
“We heard that today (Wednesday) would be open day training where the fans would be allowed to watch the players. But surprisingly, they changed the plan without any information. Many of us left our businesses to come here.
“This is the height of deceit by the NFF and as Nigerians who love football, we condemn this ill-treatment of fans. This is why many Nigerian football fans would rather support European football,” Afolabi said.
Super Eagles Media Officer, Toyin Ibitoye, who had a hectic time trying to appease the fans, told NAN on phone that the decision to make the final day training a closed-door affair was borne out of a late change of programme.
“I can feel for the fans, but there is nothing we can do because we had a change of programme. Tuesday’s training was supposed to be closed, but we made it open.
“So today, Wednesday, being the final day of the training, we decided to make it a closed-door affair to balance the change that had affected our earlier plan,” Ibitoye said.