Eternal West African foes, Nigeria and Ghana have another opportunity today to revive their rivalry as the home-based Eagles take on the Black Stars in the second semi-final of the 2014 African Nations Championship in South Africa.
Before the top-of-the-billing clash at the Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein, Libya and Zimbabwe will battle for the other ticket at stake.
Since last Saturday when both Nigeria and Ghana secured the semi final tickets, aficionados of the game in the continent knew that memories of this edition of CHAN will be one to treasure.
Despite this showdown devoid of high-profile foreign-based player the mind-game being played by both sub-regional rivals has helped to add quality to the competition.
The player who played a major role in reviving Eagles when Morocco was three goals up in the quarter final, Ejike Uzoenyi, insists Nigerians have nothing to worry about today.
“At this point we don’t fear (Ghana); we can only respect them for reaching this stage because it’s not easy.”
He however admitted that football fans in the country should not look forward to an easy match.
“One fact remains, nobody should expect an easy match but my belief is that having eliminated South Africa and Morocco, we can’t hope for anything less than the cup,” stressed the petit- bomber.
His captain and first choice goal keeper of the team, Chigozie Agbim also re-echoes Uzoenyi’s desire to play in the final after overcoming the Ghanaians today.
“Our desire in every game is to win and I believe in the semifinal, we will win by the grace of God.
“We came to compete. So, any day we can play against any country. We are not afraid of any country, including Ghana,” stressed Agbim.
Agbim assured Nigerians that Eagles would strive not to repeat the kind of mistakes they made against Morocco when they were trailing 3-0 at half time.
“We have learnt our lessons and it will not happen again,“ he further assured.
Eagles coaching crew led by Stephen Keshi should be happy now that right-back, Solomon Kwambe, is now available for selection after serving a one-match ban.
How the Black Stars will survive their goal scoring problem remains an uphill task for Coach Maxwell Konadu and his colleague.
They have just a miserly four goals to show so far as against the 12 that the Eagles have pumped into opponents’ goals.
“Our attack has been such that we only manage one goal per match but we have been defending very well. That for me is a sign of a team that is progressing and I don’t think it is a bad thing to defend very well,” coach Konadu admitted on Monday.
“It is also important to score goals but in cases when you score one goal in a match and manage to defend it, that means you will win.”
Luckily for him, the trio of Michael Akuffo, Abeiku Ainooson and Kwabena Adusei, who picked up knocks in the quarter-final clash against DR Congo are now available for selection.
Right-back Godfred Saka, who picked up a foot injury in the second Group C match against Libya, is now ready for the clash with Nigeria.
Nigeria has not defeated Ghana since 2006 when Eagles nicked a 1-0 win in the group stage of the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.