Ex-international, Tijani Babangida, has said the Super Eagles of Nigeria has what it takes to win the 2019 Africa Cup of Nation which starts in Egypt on today:
The Super Eagles failed to win or score a goal in their last two games (Zimbabwe and Senegal) ahead of the AFCON. What is the implication of this on the team’s chances in Egypt?
One way or the other, it will have implication on our performance at the tournament.
Friendlies are supposed to prepare you for the main tournament and you will find out that coaches are always not happy when you are not giving your best as a player in such games, because it will reflect on what you will do at the competition.
However, some coaches will tell their players to take it easy in friendly and when they get to the championship proper, they explode.
I am sure the competition is going to be completely different from what we saw during the friendly games.
We lost to Senegal. Is it a sign that the Super Eagles might find it difficult against the big teams?
Right now, all the teams on the continent are all big teams because there is no minnow in Africa football again. We have to play all the teams with the same zeal. Virtually all the teams are coming with professionals, with most of their players playing outside their countries. We have to work very hard and see how we can take it game after game.
I am sure the competition is going to be completely different from what we saw during the friendly games
The coach has been trying to play a new pattern – 3-5-2. Do you think he should continue with this or change to our old 4-4-2 play pattern?
If he has the players to play the pattern, then he should go ahead with it.
Football is changing and coaches always have their different pattern and game plans, if he decides to play that pattern, no problem.
That is the same thing most of the European teams are playing at the moment, if the boys can adapt to it, why not? If that’s what will give him the victory and the players are ready, let them go for it.
Burundi is our opening game, how do you want the team to approach that game?
It is not going to be easy. The boys should not treat them as minnows because they are going to be difficult to play. They are coming out to surprise us because they have nothing to lose. It is not news if Nigeria defeat Burundi, but it will be one of the biggest headlines if they beat the Super Eagles.
How far do you think the Eagles can go?
With the team I have seen, I think we have the opportunity to win the cup. I am not talking just as a Nigerian but because of what I have seen, at worst they should be able to get to the final.
Virtually all the teams are coming with professionals, with most of their players playing outside their countries. We have to work very hard and see how we can take it game after game
Your former teammate, Emmanuel Amuneke, will be in Egypt as the coach of Tanzania. What can you say about what he has done and Tanzania’s chances?
It is a big challenge for him and we are praying for him to excel. He already stamped his name in the history of that country qualifying them for the AFCON after so many years.
I wish him all the best and hope he loses in a game against Nigeria, if we meet.