AFCON 2013: Nigeria v Ethiopia Preview
Rustenburg will be the venue for the Super Eagles’ final Group C match—a contest which will decide the immediate future of the nation’s football. How will the nation remember the 2013 Cup of Nations? Will this be the year of what-ifs and might-have-beens? The year when the side conceded late equalisers against Burkina Faso and Zambia, throwing away four points in the process.
Or, will it be the year when the side overcame some perceived injustices to qualify from a tricky group and make an emphatic return to the continent’s high table? The future is still in the hands of the Super Eagles, for whom the permutations are numerous.
All Stephen Keshi will be telling his boys is that a win against Ethiopia will guarantee their place in the quarter-finals. The Black Lions may well be in disarray after their demolition at the hands of Burkina Faso, and shorn of the confidence that characterised their opening battle with Zambia, the Big Boss may well identify the Walya Antelopes as ripe for the taking.
After impressing in the first two fixtures, the duo of Emmanuel Emenike and Ahmed Musa will likely be the key attacking options for Nigeria. Despite his nervous penalty miss, John Obi Mikel’s improvement throughout the Zambia match will not have gone unnoticed—indeed, it was his pass which led to Emenike’s opening goal against Chipolopolo.
Defensive resiliency has been the issue for Naija in the first two games, and Keshi might be tempted to recall skipper Joseph Yobo, who sat out of the second fixture against Zambia.