Nigeria’s Super Eagles will have their hands full as they face the Chipolopolo of Zambia at the Levy Nwanawasa Stadium, Ndola in a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier on Sunday.
Having failed to qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations, both teams are desperate to make a huge impression on their teeming fans, who have almost lost faith and interest of their respective teams.
The Super Eagles contrasting form since the beginning of the year would definitely give the team’s coach, Genort Rohr a big cause for concern despite winning his first match against Tanzania 1-0 in Uyo in an AFCON qualifier.
With an array of star players such as Mikel Obi, Ogenyi Onazi, Ahmed Musa, Kelechi Iheanacho, Alex Iwobi, Moses Simon, Brown Ideye, Carl Ikeme and Elderson Echijiele in the team, it’s expected that the senior national team should pick the three points.
The Zambia’s are also battle ready as they have named a strong squad which has the blend of youth and experience such as Collins Mbesuma, Rainford Kalaba, Nathan Sinkala, Kennedy Mweene and Lewis Macha. The match also will mark Wedson Nyirenda’s debut game in charge following his appointment as Zambia coach in mid-September when he replaced George Lwandamina.
However, history shows that it would be wrong to underestimate the Chipolopolo considering the fact that, in their last 16 meetings in all competitions, Nigeria has won six, lost five and drawn five, to underline the strength of the Zambia’s ahead of the big clash.
The most memorable encounter between the two nations was in the final of the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia, where the Super Eagles defeated the Chipolopolo 2-1, to win the trophy for the second time. Besides, their last meeting in the 2013 AFCON tournament ended in a 1-1 draw in South Africa as the Super Eagles went ahead to clinch their third AFCON trophy after beating Burkina Faso 1-0 in the final.
Already, there are concerns that the weather could be unfavourable for the crop of Super Eagles foreign based players, who are coming from a cool weather. However, Nigeria Football Federation’s Technical Committee chairman, Barrister Christopher Green disclosed that the invited Super Eagles players won’t have any problem adapting to the weather and that the team’s focuses on picking the maximum points.
“I don’t think we should be talking about the hot weather in Ndola and the effect it will have on our players because what’s more important is the three points,” Green told Soccernet.com.ng.
“Forget about the fact that the majority of our Super Eagles players plies their trade in Europe and they play in a conducive weather. However, they all understand what is at stake and I believe they won’t complain at the weather even if they are to play at 12pm.”
Meanwhile, former Secretary-General of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Taiwo Ogunjobi has charged the Super Eagles technical crew and players to do everything humanly possible to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, starting with the game against Zambia in Lusaka.
“All I can say is that the team must do everything humanly possible to make sure that we qualify for the next World Cup. The match in Zambia is going to be a tough one couple with the fact that the Super Eagles have not been able to qualify for two previous Africa Cup of Nations,” Ogunjobi said.
“This is not good for the image of the country but we still have hope of qualifying to the next World Cup in Russia. The administrators must put their hands together and do everything humanly possible to qualify for the World Cup.” he said.
Super Eagles captain, Mikel Obi believes the team will overcome the Chipolopolo of Zambia in their opening Russia 2018 World Cup Group B qualifier.
“We are all looking forward to the qualifying matches, starting with Sunday’s game in Zambia. Each and every one of us knows what it means – big battles that we have to win. We are ready for the challenge,” the 29-year-old, who represented Nigeria at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, told Nigeria Football Federation’s official website.
Zambia vs Nigeria head to head record
- 28 Oct 1973 Zambia v Nigeria L 5-1 Africa Cup of Nations
- 11 Nov 1973 Nigeria v Zambia W 3-2 African Games
- 10 Mar 1978 Zambia v Nigeria D 0-0 Africa Cup of Nations
- 28 Jul 1981 Zambia v Nigeria L 3-0 International Friendly
- 13 Mar 1982 Nigeria v Zambia L 0-3 Africa Cup of Nations
- 10 Aug 1985 Nigeria v Zambia D 0-0 Africa Cup of Nations
- 18 Aug 1985 Zambia v Nigeria L 1-0 Africa Cup of Nations
- 12 Mar 1990 Nigeria v Zambia W 2-0 Africa Cup of Nations
- 10 Apr 1994 Nigeria v Zambia W 2-1 Africa Cup of Nations
- 15 Dec 1997 Zambia v Nigeria L 2-0 International Friendly
- 17 Dec 1997 Zambia v Nigeria D 0-0 International Friendly
- 13 Jan 2001 Nigeria v Zambia W 1-0 Africa Cup of Nations
- 24 Mar 2001 Zambia v Nigeria D 1-1 Africa Cup of Nations
- 25 Jan 2010 Zambia v Nigeria D 0-0 Africa Cup of Nations
- 15 Nov 2011 Nigeria v Zambia W 2-0 International Friendly
- 25 Jan 2013 Zambia v Nigeria D 1-1 Africa Cup of Nations