Coming into today’s crunchy tie at the Baba Yara Stadium, Kumasi, Ghana, the coach Otto Addo-tutored Black Stars have the edge over the Super Eagles. The last time the Super Eagles defeated the Black Stars was on January 23, 2006 and it was a Nations Cup cracker in Port Said, Egypt, which ended 1-0. Both teams have met four times after Nigeria’s 2006 victory, with Ghana winning three and drawing one. Today’s match is coming 11 years after the last clash between both teams in England.
So, which of these two countries will carry the day at the end of hostilities in Kumasi? The home side, Ghana or the visitors, Nigeria? If the Black Stars win, it will increase their number of wins against Nigeria to 26 while victory for Nigeria will take the Super Eagles to 13 wins over their West African neighbours.
Reacting to the possible outcome of the match, renowned Yenagoa based sports administrator, Kali Gwegwe said, “I’m afraid that Ghana may beat Nigeria. Apart from the passionate home crowd that will be at the Baba Yara Stadium to spur their national team to victory, Nigeria seems not to have learned any lesson from history. The technical crew is either incompetent or under the dark shadows of the leadership of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
“What on earth would make anyone even think of inviting the likes of Ahmed Musa and Odion Ighalo to the Super Eagles at this point of our football development? It shows that the coaches are either incompetent or under pressure from those calling the shots in the NFF. It also points to the fact that we are not moving forward. There is no serious progress in our football.
“The conclusion is that all is not well with our football. In such setting, you don’t expect much, except mother luck will decide to shine on us. Nigeria has several young and talented players at home and abroad, who can take over from the visibly tired legs in the Super Eagles”.
On his part, the Head of the Sport Desk, Daar Communications, Patrick Osuagwu, said “As it stands, Nigeria has an edge if we are to go by the quality of players invited for the play off. About 95% of Nigerian players are not only in top form, but play regular football at their respective clubs.
“The Black Stars have had the better part of the Super Eagles in all previous games between the two West African football giants but currently, the Ghanaians are below rating, and the last AFCON didn’t haveur them either, but suffice it to say that these records will reflect on both teams when they meet later today.
“As for where the pendulum will swing, the team with more determination and dexterity will carry the day in both encounters. Even though the Super Eagles are favourites, they need more than their quality players to qualify”.
Also contributing to the discourse, Sports editor of Yenagoa-based New Waves, Loveday Herbert said “The Super Eagles have the capacity to triumph because of the individual form of the players in their various clubs. But, placing players in the right perspective oftentimes creates defects in understanding and performance.
“I trust that while the Black Stars will pose a stiff resistance to impress their home fans, injuries have also not been kind to them. Given the solid defense of the Eagles provided by Troost Ekong, Leon Balogun, Omeruo, the tight midfielders and lethal strikers upfront, there is definitely going to be a war in Ghana”.
Also speaking, a resident of Yenagoa, Johnson Okpeke said “It is going to be a crunchy tie going by the rivalry between the two countries. Ghana would want to increase its World Cup appearances after being at the 2006, 2010 and 2014 World Cup finals. On its part, Nigeria has been to six World Cup finals –1994, 1998, 2002, 2010, 2014 and 2018. The Super Eagles, like the Black Stars, would equally want to attend the global show piece in Qatar.
“The importance of the play-off cannot be overemphasized because the winner of the double header picks one of the five tickets allotted to Africa, and in the process, depriving the other country from attending the Mundial. So, from whatever perspective you look at the clash, it is going to be a battle of pride and honour; the mother of all grudge battles”.
What team will carry the day, Nigeria or Ghana? That can only be determined after the double header taking place today and Tuesday next week.