Super Eagles captain Ikechukwu Ezenwa has admitted the national team are in a tough group at the 2018 African Nations Championship scheduled for Morocco from January 13 to February 4.
The Eagles are drawn in Group C against 2014 champions Libya, Rwanda and Equatorial Guinea. The Nigerians begin their campaign on January 15 against Rwanda at the Stade Ibn Batouta, Tangier.
“Rwanda, Libya and Equatorial Guinea are very good sides when it comes to the CHAN Tournament. At the last edition, Rwanda were very tough and they performed better than us. Libya are former champions, so they are no newcomers to the competition and for Equatorial Guinea, they will be coming with the players that played the World Cup qualifiers for them. So, to be honest, it’s going to be a very tough group for us but we are up to the task,” Ezenwa told thenff.com.
But the ex-U-23 goalkeeper insists that the Eagles are prepared to take on any opposition in Morocco, saying they’ve had an excellent preparation ahead of the tournament.
The team’s preparation include participation at the WAFU tournament in Ghana last September, where they finished as runners-up, playing in the Nigeria Professional Football League Super Six tournament in Kano in December 2017, which they won, and a series of friendly matches during the last phase of camping in Abuja.
Ezenwa added, “First of all, we are going to take each game as it comes; we have had very good preparation so far and the unity in the team is awesome and with that, I am confident of a better outing than the last time in Rwanda.
“The camping in Nigeria is coming to an end and we are in good shape to continue the next face of preparation in Morocco ahead of our first match.”
The former IfeanyiUbah shot-stopper, who was in goal in the Eagles’ final four World Cup qualifiers for Russia 2018, said the CHAN tournament was a platform for the home-based players to stake a claim for a place in the World Cup team.
“I think any player that does very well will have an opportunity because coach Gernot Rohr will be in Morocco with us just like he was with us in Ghana where some players who did well were invited for the FIFA World Cup qualifier against Zambia.”
“So, I strongly believe anyone who proves himself well will definitely get a look-in, but the most important thing for us right now is to go to Morocco and do the nation proud by winning the trophy,” the Beijing 2008 Olympics silver medallist added.