WILLIAM Troost-Ekong is confident Nigeria can qualify for the African Cup of Nations finals after today’s game with Benin Republic.
The defender is in the squad for games against Benin on Saturday and Lesotho on Tuesday, with the Super Eagles needing just one point to qualify from Group L and reach the showpiece event in Cameron next year.
Nigeria’s contingent for Saturday’s crucial 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match against Benin Republic hit the tiny West African nation with much buzz, glitz and glitter on Friday afternoon, arriving at the Porto Novo Jetty in half a dozen boats across the waterways from Lekki, Nigeria.
His Excellency Ambassador Olawale Awe, Nigeria’s ambassador to Benin Republic, led mission staff to await the delegation and then accompanied the team and its officials to Cotonou, where the group is ensconced at the Golden Tulip Hotel. The Super Eagles will ride by bus to Porto Novo on Saturday morning and return to the Golden Tulip after their clash with the Squirrels at the Stade Charles de Gaulle.
He said: “We are top of the table and need one point to qualify as group winners,” said Troost-Ekong. “I’m sure we are going to do it. I’ve got lots of confidence in our team. We have a very good team and I’m looking forward to playing. I’m really looking forward to the games and coming back having qualified for Nigeria. It’s massive for us.”
Troost-Ekong will win his 40th cap if he is selected by Gernot Rohr and he hopes the games will be straighter forward than caps number 38 and 39. In their previous two fixtures, Nigeria raced into a four-goal lead after just 29 minutes against Sierra Leone only to blow it and draw the game. They then, in a complete reversal of fortunes, played out a goalless draw against the same opposition two weeks later.
The Squirrels, who sensationally reached the quarter finals of the last edition of the AFCON in Egypt two years ago before losing to Tunisia (losers to Nigeria in the third-place match), had their last training session at the Stade Charles de Gaulle on Thursday, with Coach Michel Dussuyer saying his boys are ready to calmly collect the three points from better –fancied Nigeria.
Dussuyer, 61, a former French professional footballer and well –travelled coach, is confident his Squirrels can sneak past the Eagles to top of the pool ahead of the last round of matches in a few days. The match kicks off at 5pm.