- Title: NIGERIA : Nigeria's 'Super Eagles' fans gear up for Nation's Cup Football
- Date: 15th January 2008
- Summary: NEWSPAPER HEADLINE
- Embargoed: 30th January 2008 12:00
- Topics: Sports
- Reuters ID: LVAAI1UPIIXE8X9519EFNDM981RH
- Story Text: After disappointing appearances over the years, fans of Nigeria's Super Eagles hope that their foreign-based talent and experienced captain spell a win in this year's Africa Cup of Nations.
In the last three Nations Cup finals tournaments, Nigeria have been among the heavy favourites but were eliminated on each occasion at the semi-final stage.
Nigeria's 'Super Eagles' have battled for consistency since missing out on the World Cup finals but did beat Euro 2008 co-hosts Switzerland 1-0 away in their last outing. They did lose 4-1 to Ghana in a London friendly at the start of the year.
Berti Vogts, a World Cup winner in his playing days, took over as Nigeria coach at the start of 2007. The 61-year-old German previously coached the national teams of Kuwait and Scotland and Bundesliga club Bayer Leverkusen. Vogts will attempt to become the second coach to win the double of the European Championship and the African Nations Cup.
Nigeria will have several key players from the English Premier League including Everton's Yakubu and Joseph Yobo, John Utaka from Portsmouth, the Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel, newcomer Dickson Etuhu from Sunderland and Newcastle United's Obafemi Martins.
A recall for Israel-based goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama means there will be heavy competition to see who will be first choice in goal for Nigeria at the finals. The Eagles are currently training in Malaga, Spain.
"I think in a long time, this is the best preparation we've had, we've had so many games and the coach is very systematic in his approach, he's been able to test players those who are not fit, those who are coming out from injury; he had games to help him access his team. In a long while apart from the USA '94 we went for, I don't think we have had this kind of comprehensive planning, on the part of the coach, and supported by Nigeria Football Association for a major tournament. So if you want me to score the Eagles in terms of preparation I think we've had a fantastic preparation, the bulk of the team has been in the camp from the first day the camp opened in Malaga," said sports analyst, Toyin Ibitaoye.
Portsmouth striker Nwankwo Kanu has yet to emulate his club form in the colours of the Nigerian team but will lead the Super Eagles in Ghana in what is likely to be his final fling at this level of continental competition.
But despite the long hours the Eagles have spent practising, some of their fans aren't just putting their faith in the team's fancy footwork.
"Kanu Nwankwo you could remember is the captain of Nigeria in 1996 Olympics and we came back with a gold medal and there's this talk about 14 years that we won 1980, 1994 and this is another 14 years; I think if every thing is being put in place Nigeria will be there to lift the cup," said Femi Adetula, an Eagles fan who lives in Lagos, the commercial capital.
Nigeria last won the Cup in 1994 and before that in 1980. There were runners-up in 1984, 1988, 1990 and 2000.
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