Afcon 2023: Elephants want revenge but Odegbami posits Eagles will beat them on Sunday
Like wounded lions, Elephants of Cote D’Ivoire will come out fighting to avenge the first round 1-0 defeat handed them by the Super Eagles of Nigeria on January 18, which contributed to nearly seeing them out of the competition at the group stage, after being piped 4-0 in their last match by Equatorial Guinea, which share a 1-1 draw with the three-time African champions.
Going by the comments of Sebastian Haller, Ivorian forward, who vowed revenge for the defeat at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan, where Sunday’s encounter would be happening again.
But Segun Odegbami, former captain of the Nigerian side, who scored a brace to hand the country its first African trophy on March 22 1980 at the National Stadium Lagos, is not only confident for the three-time champions but optimistic that Sunday’s encounter with the host nation, who got into the finals by beating Congo Democratic Republic (CDR) the same Wednesday Nigeria dispatched South Africa, would be the easiest for the Nigerian side.
Mathematical Odegbami, a member of the Green Eagles (now Super Eagles), stated that the Super Eagles were better than their opponents, saying that the Ivorians reached the final game through sheer “luck,” asserted, during an interview on Channels TV Morning Brief, that Nigeria, having beaten them before, now had a psychological edge over the Ivorians.
Hear him: “We have beaten them before; we defeated them in the group stage, which gives us a psychological edge. Also, the hosts have not played well; they are not one of the top teams; they’ve been lucky. It’s a miracle they’ve gotten to this stage; they haven’t earned or deserved it on the pitch.
“In the final on Sunday, it will be a noise-making, vociferous crowd trying to lift their players against a team that should be prepared for no distractions and focused for 90 minutes. The Super Eagles play their game against a team that respects us. On the street, the Ivorians know we are superior. We just need to display it. Our players must believe, and I know we shall outplay them. It’s going to be our easiest match; it’s going to be a training session, and Nigeria will defeat them hands down.
Admonishing the government to provide Nigeria with enough fans for the match, he added: “We’re going to be up against 60,000 Ivorian fans, and they will overwhelm any kind of support we provide. I urge the government to provide support for our supporters; we need their voices. When we score, you see the players rush to the stands because they know how important they are.”
Haller was quoted by BeIn SPORTS, as saying that the Elephants would seek retribution and the trophy this time around, adding: “We are playing the (Afcon final) final against Nigeria. It is a great nation. It is heavy. They beat us in the group stage. But we are already motivated to go and lift the trophy on Sunday in this stadium in front of the Ivorian people. We have revenge to take on Nigeria.”