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World Cup Qualifier: Mikel Says Team Will Give Everything For Three Points

Super Eagles Captain, Mikel Obi, has assured Nigerians that the team would deliver win in the World Cup qualifier against Algeria at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium on Saturday. The Eagles’ Skiper’s assurance is contained in a statement by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) spokesperson, Ademola Olajire in Lagos.

The statement quoted the 29-year-old midfielder as saying that the team was determined to earn the match’s three points. It restated that all the players appreciated the importance of the game and its ramifications for Nigeria’s march to a sixth FIFA World Cup finals. “We all know what this match means, why we have to give everything. Yes, we started the race well by winning in Zambia, but we have to approach this match even more seriously. “The Algerians will come with determination and they will play hard, but we will play harder. “The World Cup is the biggest stage; every player wants to be there. I am happy we have such a young and energetic team. “I played at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014 but there are many of these players who have never been to the World Cup. They want to be there,’’ it quoted Obi as saying. The statement added that the dogged playmaker insisted that the team was looking forward to nothing less than victory against the invading Fennecs of Algeria. “Three points; that is what we will be playing for. We are committed and the visit of the Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo to our training in Abuja has motivated us the more.’’ Nigeria represented Africa at the 1994, 1998, 2002, 2010 and 2014 FIFA World Cup finals, reaching the Round of 16 in 1994, 1998 and 2014. Nigeria and Algeria are Africa’s best teams at the last World Cup finals in Brazil, each eliminated in the Round of 16 on the same day. While Nigeria fell to France, Algeria were pipped by Germany. The rivalry between Nigeria and Algeria at the senior level is one of the fiercest in African football. Nigeria beat Algeria to win her first Africa Cup of Nations in 1980; 10 years later, Algeria beat Nigeria to win her first Cup of Nations. Algeria beat Nigeria to qualify for her first FIFA World Cup — Spain 1982; Nigeria beat Algeria to qualify for her first FIFA World Cup — USA 1994. The first meeting between both teams at the All-Africa Games that Nigeria hosted in 1973 ended 2-2. Algeria enjoyed a three-match winning streak against Nigeria between October 1981 and March 1982. Nigeria has won the last four confrontations between both nations. The Super Eagles have never lost a World Cup qualifying home match outside of Lagos. They have lost only one out of six World Cup qualifiers played in November, winning the remaining five. The Algerians hit Uyo on Thursday evening with a delegation of 61 persons, aboard a chartered flight, and will have their official training on the pitch of Godswill Akpabio International Stadium on Friday evening. They were received at the Ibom International Airport by NFF Deputy General Secretary, Dr Emmanuel Ikpeme and Protocol Officer, Emmanuel Ayanbunmi. The match officials, led by Hassan Osama Atta Ibrahim El Manan (match commissioner from Sudan), slept in Lagos on Thursday to hit Uyo on Friday. The referee is Gambian Bakary Papa Gassama, with Jean-Claude Birumushahu (Burundi) as assistant referee 1; Marwa Range (Kenya) as assistant referee 2 and Maudo Jallow (Gambia) as fourth official. Jean-Olivier Mbera from Gabon will serve as referee assessor and Kenyan Nicholas Chumba Musonye will be security officer. The match kicks off at 5 p.m. on Saturday.

About Editor

Otunba Sayo Akintola is a 1992 graduate of Linguistics from the University of Ibadan, Oyo State. He holds a post-graduate diploma in Financial Management and MBA from Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi. He started his 12-year sojourn in journalism at the Nigerian Tribune in 1993 as Business and Economy reporter. He rose through the ranks to become the Group Business Editor of the nation’s oldest surviving private national newspaper, the Nigerian Tribune. He set up World Street Journal magazine in 2018.

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