There will be no jollof rice for the Super Eagles in Kumasi – By: David Ngobua
On Friday, March 25, three-time African champions Nigeria’s Super Eagles take on rivals Ghana’s Blacks Stars in a must-win first leg of the 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Considering the existing footballing rivalry between the two West African countries which started as early as 1950, no one needs a clairvoyant to know that the encounter will not be a tea party for one or the other. other of the parties.
In total, Ghana and Nigeria have faced each other 56 times, with the Black Stars coming out on top after claiming 25 wins against Nigeria’s 12 wins, of which 19 games ended in a draw.
This rivalry began on October 16, 1950 in a friendly match at Gold Coast as Ghana was called. Ghana managed to register a slim 1-0 victory in this game. But on October 20, 1951, Nigeria regained their pound of flesh in a 5-0 demolition of Ghana in Lagos. These two matches set the tone for the subsequent epic clashes between the two countries.
Their last game was a friendly in England but nothing separated the two African heavyweights. So it promises to be another football ‘war’ on Friday as Ghana, who last competed at the World Cup in 2014, do their utmost to pick the Qatar 2022 ticket ahead of their rivals.
Already, the Ghanaians are playing serious mind games with their opponents. One of them was the unnecessary commotion at the match venue. They first offered the bumpy Cape Coast terrain just to upset the Super Eagles. Later, they settled at Baba Yara Stadium in Kumasi as the venue for the crucial match.
After successfully moving the game to Kumasi, the Ghanaians go all out to make the Super Eagles and their fans believe that the Black Stars are invincible at Baba Yara Stadium. They say the Black Stars were never mitigated in their fortress. And there is also talk of juju just to scare Nigerian boys.
Apart from that, they want to create the false impression that their team is not in the best shape to face the Super Eagles. For several weeks, the Ghanaian team managers played hide and seek with the list of players invited for the game. All of these plans are deliberate to deceive and make their opponents complacent in order to catch them napping. These are all mind games that the Super Eagles must decipher now, if they are to survive Kumasi.
Interestingly, Nigeria isn’t sleeping either, as the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and the Federal Ministry of Sports are also doing what is humanly possible to ensure the Super Eagles soar high above the Black Stars.
The list of Super Eagles invited for the Battle of Kumasi has been released in a timely manner and the minor issues that came with it have been ironed out. And the back room staff have moved into the team camp to make all necessary arrangements to receive the players who will start arriving at the Wells Carlton Hotel Abuja this morning.
So, as preparations begin today for the all-important game, the Super Eagles must be told in very clear terms that to qualify for the 2022 World Cup they must avoid defeat in Kumasi. And for them to come out unscathed, they must be ready to shed blood.
No doubt it will be a fiery affair but if we all agree that a team is only as good as its last performance, then the Black Stars’ disastrous exit at AFCON 2021 in Cameroon should inspire the Super Eagles. Although both teams failed to shine, Nigeria fared better as they qualified for the knockout stage.
However, that shouldn’t be reason enough for the Super Eagles to take anything for granted. The humiliated Black Stars are still bubbling with anger. They will stop at nothing to win back the support of their many fans.
But it won’t be a walk in the park for them as unlike what happened in Cameroon, the Super Eagles could play at full throttle. Barring unforeseen circumstances, in-form Nigerian strikers Victor Osimhen and old war horse Odion Ighalo will be in Kumasi to lead the team’s attack.
A few days ago, Ighalo announced he was ready for ‘war’ in Kumasi with a hat-trick as Al-Hilal beat Al-Ahli Jeddah 4-2 in the Saudi League. And just yesterday, lanky Oshimen sent shivers down the spine for the Black Stars with another brace for Napoli against Udinese in the Italian Serie A.
Undoubtedly, all of this spells danger for the four-time AFCON champions, but the Black Stars can also take inspiration knowing that their opponents are also facing injury worries. Currently, Wilfred Ndidi, Sadiq Umar, Kenneth Omeruo and Ademola Lookman who recently switched nationalities from England to Nigeria are battling against the clock with different injuries.
And even as vice-captains William Troost-Ekong and Oghenekaro Etebo of Watford as well as Ola Aina of Turin are back from injuries, they may have some fitness issues. Therefore, the trio might not be able to achieve premium performance.
All told, the Super Eagles must prepare for ‘war’ in Kumasi. Although there is a friendly competition between the two nations as to who can cook better jollof riceno one is going to serve Super Eagles ‘Ghana jollof rice’ in Kumasi.