2013 Africa Cup of Nations: B’Faso, Ethiopia scare ex-Eagles stars
Former Nigerian stars have admitted that the Super Eagles will face a tough challenge at the South Africa 2013 Africa Cup of Nations as the team aim at winning the tournament for the third time.
The ex-internationals advised the Super Eagles against underrating Group C opponents Burkina Faso and Ethiopia at the South Africa 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, which begins on Saturday.
Defending champions Chipolopolo of Zambia and the Eagles are the favourites to advance from the group to the knockout stage of the tournament.
Former Eagles midfielder, Etim Esin, says the Eagles can only underrate their foes at their own peril.
“There are no longer underdogs in African football. Don’t forget that champions Zambia are in our group. Nobody expected them to win the trophy last time out,” Etim said.
“There are spoilers like Burkina Faso and Ethiopia. These teams can make things difficult for us if we underrate them. We saw what little Cape Verde did to us during a friendly game. So we should expect more of that in South Africa.
“Coach (Stephen) Keshi wants to make history by winning the trophy as a player and coach. We have a good squad but defensively, we are lacking. If we beef up that area, we stand a chance.”
Tunisia 2004 bronze medallist, Ikpe Ekong, also called for caution but the Sweden-based player’s area of concern is in the attack.
The former Reggiana of Italy midfielder said, “To be honest with you, anything can happen in football, so we have to be careful.
“We need to be focused and also fortify our attack because the more goals we score, the more our chances of going far in the tournament.”
But USA ’94 World Cup star, Emeka Ezeugo, is worried that the Eagles are going to the Nations Cup with a lot of debutants.
Seventeen of the Eagles 23-man squad will be appearing in the Nations Cup for the first time.
“If you are a rookie in a competition like AFCON, it’s going to show. We have so many players going to the Nations Cup for the first time,” Ezeugo said.
“You are not going to expect them to perform wonders like Pele did in his first World Cup in 1958 when he scored two goals in the final as a 17-year-old. That’s not going to happen.”
Ezeugo added that every team stood a chance of winning the competition but tipped Ghana’s Black Stars and Ivory Coast’s Elephants as favourites for the trophy.
He said, “Every country that qualifies are strong contenders. Of course Niger and Ethiopia are the minnows but I expect the big teams like Ghana, Ivory Coast and Nigeria to reach the quarter-finals.”PUNCH