Nigeria’s on-field captain William Ekong has told thenff.com that the match against Angola could prove to be the toughest yet for the Eagles, but that himself and team mates are ready for the battle.
“We can no longer expect any easy games. In truth, there have not been easy games here. We have played Equatorial Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau and Cameroon, and none has turned out to be a picnic. From the quarter-finals, it will be a lot tougher because all the teams will believe they are good enough for the trophy.
“We are discussing among ourselves what we have to do. There is no resting on our oars. We saw Guinea eliminate Equatorial Guinea that emerged the best team of the group phase. Football is like that. We must be alert for the entire period and do our best to convert the chances that we create.”
Winger Moses Simon also admitted that it would not be a stroll-in-the-park at the Stade Félix Houphouët-Boigny on Friday.
“It is going to be a difficult game, like the ones against Cote d’Ivoire and Cameroon, and even Equatorial Guinea. We must be at our best and focus on the prize.”
Clashes between Nigeria and Angola at international level have been few and far between, but Nigeria has a couple of scores to settle with the southern African nation.
Angola edged Nigeria to reach the last round of the qualification series for the 1990 FIFA World Cup finals in Italy, but the return leg in Nigeria that the Eagles won 1-0 was under a cloud of tragedy as playmaker Samuel Okwaraji collapsed and died 13 minutes from the end on 12th August 1989. Several other football fans lost their lives in a stampede that ensued after the game. The first leg in Luanda ended 2-2.
Angola also famously stopped Nigeria from reaching the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals, when the Eagles followed a 0-1 loss in Luanda to draw 1-1 with the Negras in a sunny Sani Abacha Stadium in June 2005.
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