Nigeria are the favourites ahead of their crucial World Cup qualifying double-header against their West African neighbours
Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi believes the Super Eagles have enough quality to overcome Ghana’s Black Stars and qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
Nigeria face Ghana on March 25 at the Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi for the first leg of the final playoff round.
With a squad boasting Africa’s most expensive player Victor Osimhen, 2019 Afcon top goalscorer Odion Ighalo, and the most valuable player in the Spanish Segunda Umar Sadiq, among others, the Super Eagles are the favourite on paper to advance.
But five-time African champions Ghana are one of the continent’s most successful teams at the World Cup, reaching the quarterfinals at the 2010 edition in South Africa.
The Ghanaians are presently far from being the best team in Africa, winning none of their games at the 2021 Afcon as they were knocked out of the group stages.
But Akpeyi has urged his international teammates to be wary of their eternal rivals, insisting that their opponents will offer a tough challenge on Friday.
The South Africa-based shot-stopper is, however, confident that the Eagles will match the Stars in fight and commitment.
“We have a crop of good players who are able to help Nigeria qualify for Qatar,” Akpeyi told IOL.
“Ghana is also a strong team; there has been a rivalry between the countries on many things. Football is a big part of this and at the end of the day, it is the team that prepares very well and gets ready to take their chances and defend well. This is the team that will qualify.
“For me, history does not really work for football. What works for football is the preparation for today. Currently, we are doing well, and we have been to the last three World Cups.
“This is not going to be any different. It is not going to be a walk in the park, but we are going to give our heart out there.”
Akpeyi, 35, could be in line to make his 20th appearance for the Super Eagles, with regular number one Maduka Okoye ruled out of the encounter.