Supper Eagle Squad-photo
West Ham forward Victor Moses and Aaron Samuel have been recalled from the football international wilderness for the crucial 2017 AFCON qualifiers against Egypt.
Interestingly, both stars are expected to lead the attack against the pharaoh's, Just like their namesakes in the bible, brother Moses and Aaron led the Israelite's out of slavery in Egypt. But freedom didn't come quite easy for the Israelite's, as Pharaoh, the Egyptian king, and his subjects did all they could to keep them as slaves, until they (Egyptians) perished in the Red Sea
Incidentally, Nigeria’s Super Eagles find themselves in dire situation against the Egyptians in Group G of the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
Leaders Pharaohs have maximum six points from two games, while Nigeria are second with four points; after a 2-0 win at home against Chad and a goalless draw against Tanzania in Dar es Salam.
The Super Eagles are poised to battle at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium, Kaduna on March 25 before travelling to Alexandria for the reverse fixture four days later.
If the Eagles hope to stand a chance of qualification from the group, then they need at least four points from both games to revive their hopes of qualifying for the event in Gabon next year, after missing the last edition in Equatorial Guinea.
The winners of the 13-group qualifiers — 12 groups with four teams and one with three teams (plus the host nation which play friendlies with the other three teams) — and the two best overall runners-up will qualify for the tournament in Gabon next year.
The Nigeria Football Federation brought back ex-coach of the Eagles Samson Siasia alongside Emmanuel Amuneke, Salisu Yusuf and Aloy Agu, to prosecute the double games against the Egyptians, after Sunday Oliseh’s resignation as coach of the team.
Siasia immediately invited 43 players — 22 home-based and 21 overseas-based stars — for the crucial encounters.
But a worried Siasia disclosed that he could consider lining up a team made up of only pros from overseas after his home-based team failed to beat a second-tier league side Katsina United on Thursday.
“I am not really happy that they couldn’t create enough chances to beat a team like Katsina United. It is rather unfortunate,” Siasia said.
“By now I should have seen some wonderful displays from my boys. What worries me is their nonchalant attitude in front of goal. They found it difficult to create scoring chances and even the few ones created were fluffed. We can’t be missing goals like this in a crucial match against Egypt.
“I will have no option than to rely on the overseas-based players, if the home boys fail to live up to the billings.”
Perhaps the Bayelsa-born coach knew the monumental task ahead and needed his own Moses and Aaron to lead his army past the Egyptians.
And he duly handed invitations to West Ham forward Victor Moses and new CSKA Moscow striker Aaron Samuel.
Both players have been out of the national team with Moses last playing for the Eagles at the 2014 World Cup after a fall-out with erstwhile coach Stephen Keshi. Moses rejected a return to the national team under Oliseh, preferring to focus on his club career instead.
Siasia believes that the 25-year-old alongside regular Mikel Obi has a key role to play.
He said, “Egypt will be coming with their best players and I strongly feel Mikel and Moses’ wealth of experience will come in handy if we are to pick three points against Egypt in Kaduna.
“I am really impressed with Mikel’s attitude towards this important game; he has called in to confirm his readiness for the clash. Victor Moses has pledged to return too and this is quite encouraging at a time we need our top players against Egypt.”
Powerful striker Aaron Samuel was a regular under Keshi after he made his international debut against Sudan in a 1–0 defeat against Sudan in Omdurman, coming on as a substitute for Nosa Igiebor in the 47th minute, in a 2015 AFCON qualifier, on October 11, 2014.
Four days later, he scored his first international goal in a 3–1 victory against Sudan in the reverse fixture in Abuja. He scored his second goal for Nigeria in a 2-0 win over Congo in Pointe Noire. He last played for the Eagles in the 2-0 defeat of Chad in Kaduna last June, before he was left out of the team by Oliseh in the 14 games he was in charge of the squad.
Secretary of the Association of Professional Footballers of Nigeria, Austin Popo, believes the recall of both players was a crucial decision by Siasia.
“You may say there’s a spiritual angle to it because of their names but again, these guys (Moses and Aaron) weren’t too old to be left out of the squad. You can’t buy experience; the national team is not a playground for people to experiment. These guys are still relevant and still doing well in their clubs and hopefully they should be hungry for goals and victory against the Egyptians,” Popo stated.
A football fan, Innocent Udoh, said the names of both players could cause psychological problems for their North African opponents.
“I believe there’s no Egyptian who hasn’t heard the story of Moses and Aaron. When they see these names in our team list, they will know they are in for serious trouble,” Udoh said.
An ardent fan of the Eagles, Kolawole Jonah, shares Udoh’s views.
“It’s a good development (that Moses and Aaron have returned to the team) for Nigerian football. Both players will like to prove themselves now that they have been given another opportunity to showcase their talents and prove themselves. I believe they wouldn’t want to betray Siasia’s trust on them,” Jonah said.
Ex-international defender, Mike Onyemachara, added, “Moses is still as sharp as ever, we watch him weekly in the Premier League, so we can monitor his progress. Though he was out of the national team, he has been impressive at club level. He surely has a lot to contribute to the squad. He has a crucial role to play.”
Football journalist, Ikenwa Nnabuogor, also believes both players can make the difference against a Pharaohs side that has not attended the last three editions of the continent’s top football showpiece.
“Moses and Aaron can make the difference to some extent, though they will be playing with so many new players. Both are class apart but good players can always make the difference.
“The Pharaohs are not fantastic but it’s going to be difficult for the Eagles. Somehow we will edge it 2-1 in Kaduna and hold the Egyptians to a scoreless draw in Alexandria,” he stated.
However, Joyce Ndidi, says there is no relationship between the biblical characters and the Super Eagles players, and urged the team to concentrate fully on the task ahead.
“I don’t think the Egyptians will just freeze out because of both names. This is football and names don’t play football. It’s the effort you put in on match day that will determine the result you will get. Moses and Aaron are fantastic players but there’s no Red Sea to cross here, it’s just a football match,” the Super Falcons supporter said.
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