Seychelles faces powerful Nigeria team at home in Africa Cup of Nations qualifier Saturday
Seychelles and Ethiopia's encounter in the AFCON2017 at Stad Linite in September 2015 which ended on a 1-1 draw. (Patrick Joubert)
(Seychelles News Agency) - The Seychelles' national football team will face Nigeria in its second qualification match for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) on Saturday at Stad Linite.
With Nigeria having just participated in the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals in Russia in June, the match is expected to be a tough one for the Seychelles' side.
“Although we expect a difficult match, we would also like to win the match like any team in a competition. Playing against Nigeria will be no different,” Seychelles’ Coach Gavin Jeanne told SNA on Tuesday.
He said that “what is important is for us to use an effective strategy because with Nigeria not paying attention can cost us heavily. We will be trying to at least not concede any goals early in the match and keep ourselves in the game as much as possible.”
The Seychelles Pirates, as the team is known at the international level, has been drawn in one of the toughest group of the competition -- Group E -- which is composed of Nigeria, Libya and South Africa. Seychelles lost 5-1 to Libya in its opening match last year in Cairo.
As preparation for the 4.30 p.m. match on Saturday, the Seychelles' national team went into an intensive training camp on Sunday until the day of the match.
The Secretary-General of the Football Federation, George Bibi, said that the match on Seychelles’ soil against Nigeria “will show that we can also face some of the biggest names in football. Many people are expecting us to lose the match but I always have an optimistic mind and believe that nothing is impossible in football.”
As for the Nigerian Super Eagles, they also lost their opening match 2-0 to South Africa’s Bafana Bafana on their home ground and will need to win the match on Saturday to have a chance at progressing to the next round.
According to the Nigerian Daily Post on Wednesday, “Head coach of the Super Eagles, Gernot Rohr has warned his players against underrating their opponent in Saturday’s African Cup of Nations, AFCON, qualifying game.”
“For us to win, we must not look down on Seychelles because everybody thinks they are no team but if we don’t raise our game we will be shocked,” the coach was quoted as saying.
Nigeria will be playing in Seychelles without some of its key players including captain John Mikel Obi and Victor Moses, a defender of Chelsea in the English Premier League who retired from the national team after the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
For the match on Saturday, Coach Jeanne is calling on Seychellois fans to come and give their support to the Seychelles’ side.
The group stage of Africa Cup of Nations started in June last year and only the top teams and the three best runners-up from the 12 groups will join host Cameroon in the finals in 2019.