Maigari predicts tough duel against Cote d’Ivoire

PRESIDENT of the Nigeria Football Federation, Alhaji Aminu Maigari, has referred to Sunday’s quarter final showdown between the Super Eagles and the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire in Rustenburg as ‘final before final’.

The NFF supremo was gearing up the Nigerian squad ahead of the big duel which headlines the weekend’s last eight pairings, with host South Africa the only non-West African nation involved.

Nigeria won the Cup of Nations in 1980 and 1994 while Cote d’Ivoire lifted their only title after a marathon penalty shoot-out triumph over neighbours, Ghana, in Senegal in 1992.

“The match you are playing on Sunday (today) against the Ivorians is the ‘final before final’ of the championship, as you may have been reading in most of the pre-match previews, analyses and commentaries. So, you have to play it like you are playing the final match.

“Our country is one of the biggest and most respected football-playing nations of the world. At every opportunity, we must fully underscore this fact. We are a powerful nation, on and off the field.”

Nigeria take on Cote d’Ivoire on Sunday in one of the quarter final matches of the 29th Africa Cup of Nations, starting from 4pm Nigeria time at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Stadium in Rustenburg.

Maigari added: “I am very happy that there are no injuries in camp, and also that Coach Keshi has assured that there is capable replacement for Fegor Ogude