Nigeria Super Eagles will be playing with their optimum capacity when they take on the Desert Foxes of Algeria today in the last group stage of the Russia 2018 World cup qualifiers.
Though Nigeria has already qualified for the 2018 world cup, but the Gernot Rohr’s boys need to prove their worth and defend their image which had been maligned by the Algerian coach Rabbah Madjer who before this encounter had described Nigeria Eagles as a “team of benchwarmers.”
The dead-rubber clash will take place at the Stade Mohamed Hamlaoui in the Algerian city of Constantine while Referee Eric Otogo-Castane, who hails from Gabon, will take charge of proceedings.
While speaking ahead of the clash, Madjer, who was one of the stars of the great Algerian side of the 1980s, said the Super Eagles would not pose any threat to his side because many of the Nigeria players don’t get to play for their European clubs, except Alex Iwobi of Arsenal.
“I have studied the Nigerian team, apart from Iwobi, every other player is mostly a substitute for his team in Europe, but that doesn’t mean they will not be at the level to face us.
“The game against Nigeria is not a friendly match for me, to me it is the first game of the qualifiers for the 2018 African Cup of Nations in Cameroon,” said the Algerian coach.
The Desert Foxes, who are presently placed fourth on Group B, have already failed to qualify for the finals in Russia after recording one draw and four defeats. They were beaten 2-0 by Cameroun in their last outing.
The Super Eagles are sitting at the top of the group having registered four wins and one draw, and have secured ticket to the world soccer fiesta after their1-0 home win over Zambia.
Nigeria had their first ever win away to Algeria in the second leg of the 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifier. After beating Algeria 1-0 in the first leg in Abuja, Nigeria needed to beat Algeria at home – a feat they had never achieved before – to stand a chance of qualifying for the World Cup, and Eagles eventually won 5-2.
On the road to the Russia 2018 also, Eagles have shown their superiority over the Algerians by weeping them 3-1in their first leg encounter in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom state capital.
And in a seemingly response to the Algerian coach salvo, Eagles coach Rohr assured that his boys will approach today’s game with all seriousness and go for victory against their hosts.
“I don’t expect my players to go into the game with complacency. I expect them to give their best because we need to also play for record even though we have already qualified for the world cup.
“We have to show our superiority to the Algerians. We have beaten them before and I will be happy if we beat them again,” said the Franco-German tactician.
Meanwhile, Turkey-based midfielder Mikel Agu has been ruled out of today’s clash with Algeria and as well miss the friendly game against Argentina.
It is understood that Bursaspor of Turkey player got to the Super Eagles camp in Morocco with a slight knock, but the injury has failed to rebate, hence the decision to drop him from the two games.
The ruling out of Agu means only 22 players are available for Gernot Rohr to pick from for the two games.