Ex-international, Waidi Akanni, on Saturday said the Super Eagles would need a miracle to win the 2023 Côte d’Ivoire Africa Nation’s Cup (AFCON) due to inadequate preparation.
Akanni said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos with barely two weeks to the kick off of the tournament, which holds from Jan.13 to Feb. 11, 2024.
“My expectations are same whenever Super Eagles play, they have become very unreliable. So, I won’t expect much from them because I don’t want to be disappointed.
“Winning AFCON will be a miracle for Nigeria. It will be presumptuous of me to expect Super Eagles to come out tops at the championship.
“One of the elements of a team is predictability, I can’t predict them because I don’t know their pedigree.
“I believe I’m not the only one that feels this way about the team, a lot needs to be worked on in the midfield, defence and goalkeeping departments of the team,” he said.
Akanni, a member of the bronze medal winning U-20 1985 FIFA World Youth Championship team, said the handlers of the team should have included some home-based players.
“It has always been the same for AFCON with African countries because of the European season. It’s difficult to get a full house of players as a group till about a week to AFCON.
“I think the coaches should have given some home-based players the opportunity to compete for some positions, not only goal keepers.
“The final list is predictable as we had all the former players both fit and unfit in the 41-Man list,” he said.
NAN reports that the team is set to depart for a one-week training camp in Abu Dhabi.
The team will later proceed to Abidjan where it will face Equatorial Guinea in the opening Group A match on Jan. 14, 2024, and later Côte d’Ivoire, and Guinea-Bissau.
Super Eagles, three-time champions of the tournament: 1980, 1994, and 2013, hope to win the trophy for the fourth time when the tournament kicks off in January 2004.