Friday’s African Nations Cup Draw left many a Nigerian preening in satisfaction at the outcome.
Guinea, Madagascar and Burundi look at first glance to be easy pickings for the Super Eagles, offering little more than lubrication to the knockout phase of the tournament.
But should the Eagles have reason to worry? So it would seem
GUINEA ELIMINATED NIGERIA FROM AFCON 2012
despite the unbridled post-draw celebrations, many admit that Guinea will be the toughest cookies in the jar for the Eagles, and rightly so.
Even at the height of the Super Eagles powers, Aboubakar Titi Camara caused palpitations by scoring a stupendous goal in Lagos.
Of more immediate concern is their more recent meetings. During qualifying for the 2012 tournament, Guinea beat the Super Eagles 1-0 in the first leg, and drew 2-2 in Abuja. That draw cost Nigeria a place at the Nations Cup n Equatorial Guinea. Seven years after, it is payback time.
This Syli National side are dangerous though. They finished the qualifying campaign unbeaten and could pose more than enough problems.
MADAGASCAR ENDED ANICHEBE’S CAREER
When Victor Anichebe was stretchered out of that 2-0 win against Madagascar in Antananarivo, not many would have thought it would be his last game for Nigeria.
But the injury was more serious than first thought and the forward just could not recover on time. He never made it back to another Nigeria squad.
It was the same qualifying series where Guinea took four points out of Nigeria, but the Super Eagles won 2-0 over both legs for a 4-0 aggregate win. The only black Mark was the Anichebe injury and the Super Eagles might now be looking to provide some closure for their now retired striker.
BURUNDI HAVE LETHAL STRIKER
Burundi, like Madagascar, may be debutants, but their qualifying run must give cause for pause.
Not only did they qualify unbeaten, they also did so with one of the more lethal forwards on the continent.
Fiston Abdul Razak finished the series on 6 goals, one behind Nigeria’s Odion Ighalo. He has extensive experience in African football from playing in Rwanda, Kenya, South Africa, Angola and Algeria.
He will be a big threat for the Super Eagles defence.
EASY GROUP, YEAH RIGHT
The Super Eagles can get nine points out of nine, right? Not so fast.
Last time the Eagles had such an easy Group was in 2013 when Stephen Keshi’s wards were drawn against Burkina Faso, Zambia and Ethiopia.
They drew their first two games against Zambia and the Burkinabes and looked almost doomed, until a last day win against Ethiopia saw them squeak past Zambia on goal difference after both sides finished with 5 points.
Nigeria have always qualified from the group stage, but it has never been a walk in the park.