Super Eagles bank on superior desire

Steely mental strength and a burning desire to avoid becoming the first Nigerian side to fail to qualify for the African Nations Cup in a generation will be what drives the Super Eagles on when they take on Madagascar on Sunday.

Their task is simple. Claim three points, and they can take it to the final day, where they play host to group leaders Guinea in Abuja. Losing is simply unthinkable.

Pic: Joel Obi

Coach Samson Siasia, his assistant Simon Kalika and captain Joseph Yobo are all agreed on what the key ingredient for victory is

"It is about who wants it more from the heart," Kalika said on the eve of the game. "All the quality, all the formations and all the planning will not matter if we do not have the desire in the heart."

And for Siasia

"Simon has said it. We have to have the desire to go out there and win, irrespective of who they bring. We have to take the game to them because Nigerians will not accept any excuses."

Madagascar coach Franck Rajaonarisamba was appointed barely two weeks ago after his predecessor Maurice Mosa led the squad to a disastrous outing at the Indian Ocean Games. He admits that his team have little to play for, but he is quick to point out that what little they have, they will be prepared to fight for
"We are ready. It comes down to defending the honor of the nation and for that we will do our best to win," he said.

Siasia has told his charges they will have to alter their style and play a more direct game as a result of the poor condition of the Stade de Mahamasina

"You can’t play good football on this pitch, but we have to get behind them," he says.

Nigeria lie second in group B, three points behind Guinea and failure to claim three points will put paid to their chances of reaching the African Nations Cup for the first time since 1998, when the country were banned by CAF for failing to participate at the 1996 edition in South Africa.

Motivation is a always a key component in games like this, Nigeria skipper Yobo says none is needed

"We know what is at stake, and games like this are enough to motivate you as a player. We are fired up for this and we intend to go out there and give 150% because it cannot be in our time that we fail to qualify."

Guinea take on Ethiopia later in the day, and a victory will see them maintain group leadership ahead of the final day tussle.

Kickoff in Antananarivo is 2:30pm local time (12:30pm Nigerian time).
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