• Sports Minister to cheer Eagles • Okpala faults absence of home-based players

The Super Eagles have vowed to clip the wings of the Falcons of Sao Tome and Principe in tomorrow’s 2024 AFCON qualifier in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

Nigeria has already secured a spot in next year’s Africa Cup of Nations with a game to spare, topping Group A with 12 points after five games. In the first-ever meeting between the two countries, last year, the Super Eagles won 10-0.

But Sao Tome and Principe manager, Adriano Eusebio has vowed that the Falcons will turn the table against the Super Eagles tomorrow in Uyo. Such declaration by Sao Tome and Principe seems not to be going down well with the Nigerians.

An official of the Super Eagles told The Guardian in a telephone chat, yesterday, that the players are eagerly waiting to repeat another big score line against the visitors tomorrow.

“We have seen all the boasting by players and officials of Sao Tome and Principe since they arrived in Nigeria. Our players are waiting for Sunday to respond by beating them silly at the Nest of Champions. I am sure they will leave Nigeria with another big score line,” the official stated.

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), has fixed the sum of N1,000 as gate fee for the popular side and N2,000 for the VIP in tomorrow’s AFCON qualifier against Sao Tome and Principe in Uyo. The match will kick off at 5pm.

According to the NFF, the gate fees were reduced to enable spectators turn up in large number for the match.

Sports minister, Senator John Enoh, is expected to be in Uyo to cheer the Super Eagles tomorrow.

Speaking with his media team ahead of the African Cup of Nations qualifying game, the minister stated that though the game is a dead-rubber encounter, it is necessary for him to be present to cheer the Super Eagles to victory, saying that a win will bring smiles to the faces of Nigerians.

Enoh said: “This game is an opportunity for our darling Super Eagles to put a smile on the faces of millions of Nigerians who are constantly behind them. Even though it is a dead rubber encounter, this presents an opportunity to bring joy to the country, while we also test ourselves ahead of the AFCON”

“We also have the World Cup qualifying series ahead of us, thus, we cannot be complacent in our approach to the tie. I will cheer the team from the front, and I enjoin all Nigerians to throw their weight behind them.”

However, former Super Eagles Assistant coach, Silvanus Okpala, is not pleased with the team being paraded by coach Jose Perseiro against Sao Tome and Principe.

Okpala told The Guardian that Perseiro should have invited mostly domestic league players for the tie.

“In my opinion, this match against Sao Tome and Principe should have been used to test the ability of more domestic players and a few foreign-based players, who have not gotten the chance to showcase their skills in the Super Eagles team.

“This would have given the technical crew of the Super Eagles the chance to select more quality players into the main team ahead of the World Cup qualifiers and the AFCON Championship in Cote d’Ivoire.

The domestic players would have been camped for two weeks to prepare for this AFCON qualifier since the Nigeria league is on break. I don’t see any reason why some regular foreign-based players were called for this match that is not important because win or loss, the Super Eagles are in the AFCON,” Okpale said.

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