‘Nigeria will need adequate preparation to qualify from Group Phase in Cote d’Ivoire
By Rasheed Adewuyi
Former Super Eagles winger Felix Owolabi says Nigeria’s qualification from the Group stage to the next round of the 2023 African cup of Nations slated for January 2024 in Cote d’ Ivoire will depend on adequate preparation.
Nigeria was drawn in group A with the host nation, Cote d’ Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, and Equatorial Guinea at the ceremony held in Abidjan on Thursday.
Owolabi in a telephone conversation with Sports Joust disclosed that the Super Eagles preparations will determine how far they will go when the competition kicks off.
According to him, “adequate preparation is the key to success. You plan to succeed. We need to bring our foreign based players to the country to enable them blend with their colleagues in Nigeria.” he said.
“This is the area where I have problem with because there’s always no time to prepare for big tournaments.”
The former IICC Shooting Stars of Ibadan player warned that the Super Eagles should be very careful of the Ivorians who would want to do everything to host and win the competition adding that the 1978 Afcon experience in Ghana is still very fresh on his mind.
He advised that the NFF should organize friendly matches with countries that are in the region where the Afcon is going to take place to help the players adapt to the weather and style of play of the teams in Nigeria’s group.
“I don’t buy the idea of playing Saudi Arabia in Europe. Since we are playing against Ivory Coast, Guinea Bissau and Equatorial Guinea why can’t we arrange friendly matches with countries like Togo, Mali and Benin Republic who will give us the same thing we are likely to get from teams in our Afcon group” he added.
The 34th edition of Afcon takes place from 13 January until 11 February 2024. It is the second time Ivory Coast has hosted the finals, having also welcomed Africa in 1984. The competition was originally scheduled to be held in June–July 2023, the tournament was moved due to fears about playing it in the rainy season.