Nigeria need at least a point from their last two matches to book their AFCON ticket, but the national team has been charged to go all out for victory when they face their West African opponents in March
Former Nigeria international Ifeanyi Udeze is convinced that the Super Eagles can beat the Squirrels of Benin Republic when the two teams clash in their African Cup of Nations qualifier on March 22.
Nigeria edged the first leg between the two teams, with Gernot Rohr’s men coming from behind to secure a 2-1 win over the Beninoise on matchday one at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in November 2019.
Victor Osimhen’s penalty strike on the stroke of halftime and Samuel Kalu’s 63rd-minute volley cancelled out Stephane Sessègnon’s fifth-minute opener in Uyo.
But confidence in the Nigerian squad has taken a hit after a string of disappointing results in recent times.
The Super Eagles have won none of their last four matches, losing to Algeria and drawing against Tunisia and twice versus Sierra Leone.
The most shocking of the results came at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City, where Gernot Rohr’s side threw away a four-goal lead to draw 4-4 against the Leone Stars.
Udeze believes the Super Eagles would have learnt their lesson from that disappointing encounter.
The former West Brom fullback, however, wants the Nigeria Football Federation and head coach Gernot Rohr to find a way of getting clubs to release the Nigerian players on time as that may be the biggest challenge they face in a world battling the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The Super Eagles are matured players, and they know the task ahead of them, ” Udeze told the Guardian.
“The errors against Sierra Leone must have taught them a big lesson.
“But one challenge Rohr and NFF may face is getting the players early because most clubs may not want to release their players because of the second wave of Covid-19.
“NFF should start its work early. Nigeria needs to beat Benin Republic to qualify for the AFCON. Losing the game will not be too good for Nigeria.”
Nigeria will qualify for Cameroon 2022 should they avoid defeat against the Benin Republic.
The Super Eagles have lost none of their four group matches and boast eight points, one more than the second-placed Benin Republic.
Sierra Leone sit in third with three points while Lesotho are at the base of Group L with just two points.