2022 World Cup qualifier: No pressure ahead of Cape Verde clash, says Musa

Super Eagles captain Ahmed Musa has assured Nigerians that the Super Eagles are mature, professional, and ambitious enough to deal with any pressure when taking on the Blue Sharks of Cape Verde in Tuesday’s crucial game of Group C of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifying African series.

Nigeria leads the group after five matches with 12 points while Cape Verde follows closely with 10 points, and that explains the importance of the encounter in Lagos.

After a hard-fought 2-0 victory over Liberia in Tangier, the former Leicester City forward confirmed the team has the right mindset to execute the mission.

No Pressure

“There will always be all kinds of pressure when you are out there on the football field, as a professional sportsman or woman,” said Musa. “You just must have strong fibre to cope with the pressure from everywhere, focus on getting the result and get the job done.

“Pressure is never an excuse not to put out your best; sometimes, it helps you to get beyond your level best.”

At a pre-match press conference on Monday in Lagos, Musa who holds Nigeria’s record international appearance also said a number of players in the squad have yet to feature at the FIFA World Cup finals and that would serve as good motivation.

“The FIFA World Cup is the biggest stage for every professional football player. They all want to be there; you don’t need any more motivation than that.

“We said after the match with Liberia in Tangier on Saturday that we will not be going for a draw against Cape Verde. Nothing has changed,” he stated.

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Musa also gave an assurance that the Eagles would not be complacent or underrate the Sharks but go all out as from the blast of the whistle by Algerian referee Mustapha Ghorbal.

Rohr’s Confidence

Head Coach Gernot Rohr, who will be in charge of his 54th game for the Nigerian senior men’s team on Tuesday, was confident that the three-time African champions would collect all three points against the Sharks, just as they did when both teams met at the Estadio Municipal Adérito Sena on the island of Mindelo on September 7.

“We have a job on our hands and that is to win tomorrow (Tuesday). It is important to win so as to be sure of where you will be at the end of the day. We are top of the table now and a win keeps us there and sends us to the final knockout round,” he said.

“I really don’t think we are under any pressure. We have 12 points – two more than the opponents. They are the ones with the big pressure to come out and look for a win. Our approach for tomorrow will be to win. The players are looking forward to doing that.”

Forward Odion Ighalo, who was unable to play any part in Saturday’s encounter in Tangier because he arrived in Morocco only two days to the match as he was taking his second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Riyadh, is likely to be involved against the Sharks at the Teslim Balogun Stadium.

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It would be his first run-out with the squad since he announced his retirement from the international scene after the 2019 AFCON, where he was the tournament’s top scorer.

Cape Verde’s lost 1-2 to the Eagles two months ago in the first leg fixture but a 2-1 victory over Central African Republic in their last match put them in a confident mood ahead of the final group clash with the Super Eagles.