Super Eagles Coach Sunday Oliseh will be hoping for his second win on the job as he leads out Nigeria against the Leopards of DR Congo in Thursday night’s high profile friendly.
Though initial squabbles in the Belgium camp of the Super Eagles had before now been in the front burner, attention is now focused on the tie between Nigerian and DR Congo, who won the Africa Cup of Nations in 1968 and 1974.
Today’s clash between the Eagles and Leopards will start at 7.00 p.m. at the VISE Stadium, and will be the first between both countries’ senior teams in five-and-half-years.
Despite not winning the AFCON for close to four decades, many agree that the DR Congo team still remains a strong force in African football, and never a squad to be underrated by any means.
With this, the stage thus looks poised for a thrilling encounter as the Leopards will be going up against an equally supercharged Eagles loaded with plenty of new and enthusiastic talent as well as vastly experienced stars like three –time FIFA World Cup star Vincent Enyeama who was initially sent packing from camp over issues now believed to have been resolved.
Other old guards in the mix are defenders Efe Ambrose and Elderson Echiejile, midfielders John Mikel Obi and Ogenyi Onazi as well as forwards Ahmed Musa and Emmanuel Emenike (who have all played at the FIFA World Cup), and relatively new faces Carl Ikeme, Dele Alampasu, Leon Balogun, Abdullahi Shehu, Kingsley Madu, Wilfred Ndidi, William Troost Ekong, Obiora Nwankwo, Rabiu Ibrahim, Sylvester Igbonu, Moses Simon, Odion Ighalo and Alex Iwobi.
The DR Congo team are also not bereft of stars in their own right, the star attraction no doubt is Crystal Palace attacker, Yannick Bolasie who many predict will torment Nigeria’s defence in Thursday’s international friendly.
The attacker has vowed to replicate his deadly runs at club level when he goes out in action against the Super Eagles. Joined upfront by equally fearsome Dieumerci Mbokani, the Super Eagles defence will sure have their hands full tonight.
In previous meetings. a largely home –based Nigeria squad walloped the Leopards 5-2 in a friendly in Abuja in March 2010.
Two goals by Rashidi Yekini (of blessed memory) accounted for the Leopards in a quarter -final match of the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia, just as Yekini had scored the only goal of another quarter -final tie between the two teams in Senegal two years earlier.
Yet, the most memorable clash between both nations was far back in March 1976, when a young Green Eagles’ squad stunned the reigning African champions 4-2 in a Cup of Nations group phase match in Dire Dawa, Ethiopia.
Though a friendly, much premium is placed on Thursday’s as well as Sunday’s game against Cameroon. Aside the need for confidence boosting results, Nigeria is also hoping to improve on her FIFA rankings with good results in these friendly games.