Opinion: Why Nigeria won’t win Africa Cup of Nations – Zakuani

March 10, 2021
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The 34-year-old feels the current Super Eagles are not ready to win the continental showpiece, given their current form

Former DR Congo captain Gabriel Zakuani has expressed his pessimism that Nigeria can win the Africa Cup of Nations next year.

Gernot Rohr’s men are close to sealing a place at the continental tournament as they currently top qualification Group L table with eight points.

Nigeria played out back-to-back draws against Sierra Leone in their last qualifying games in November, including squandering a four-goal lead in one of the outings which generated a lot of criticism.

The Super Eagles will take on the Republic Of Benin and Lesotho in their final Afcon qualifying games later this month and a win in either of the matches will ensure the three-time African champions qualify for the continental showpiece.

The West African giants last won the tournament in 2013 in South Africa, under the guidance of Stephen Keshi.

Zakuani believes the present Super Eagles are not prepared to repeat the 2013 feat, given their not too impressive performances lately.

“At this moment, I don’t quite feel they are ready because champions will not give away four-goal leads, so I don’t expect them to win,” Zakuani told a special edition of the BBC’s Sport Africa TV programme.

“I feel like it has come too soon for them to win it. [It’s time] for them to just be there, compete and then push on again.”

Everton forward Alex Iwobi, however, believes the Super Eagles have all it takes to qualify for the Afcon tournament and win the title.

“The positive you can take is we are still on course to be top of the table, so we are confident we have the quality to do so and put 100% for 90 minutes this time, so we can qualify,” Iwobi told the same publication.

“The opportunity I was given last time to be involved in that competition, I want that feeling again,” he said of his 2019 Nations Cup experience, where Nigeria finished third.

“If you are in a competition you want to win it, [and] I believe us players feel we have the quality to do so. We’d like to play in the best competitions and win them, so we have to prove that against Lesotho and Benin.”

The Republic of Benin international Emmanuel Imorou is hoping his improved side can nick a place at the next Afcon tournament.

“Since the Nations Cup, we have had some very good results – we have beaten Ivory Coast [and] Gabon [in friendlies],” Imorou said.

“Even during our qualifiers, we have put on some great displays. We are better, if we compare to my debut, in terms of structure, organisation, equipment – it is starting to look like something good.

“We are a team with a great bond. We don’t have clashes, we get along and I think it’s important – in the crucial games, it helps us.”

Algeria, Senegal, Tunisia and Mali have qualified for the next Africa Cup of Nations to be hosted by Cameroon.

Source: goal.com