Super Eagles captain Ahmed Musa and his vice captain William Troost-Ekong has urged the Nigeria Football Federation to ensure the fans come in their numbers, as well as provide a good pitch for their crucial Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifying play-off versus Ghana in Abuja.
Nigeria, who have featured in six of the past seven World Cups, slug it out with the Black Stars in Cape Coast on March 24, before both teams tango again at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja three days later.
At a virtual meeting with the sports minister Sunday Dare and chieftains of the Nigeria Football Federation on Tuesday night, Musa said, “The World Cup is the biggest football tournament in the world, and every player wants to feature there. A number of the players in the team now have not been there, and the few of us that have been there want to experience it again.
“We just want the NFF to help us get enough fans into the Abuja stadium for the second leg. We will go to Ghana and dig our feet and ensure we get a result. We must admit that Ghana also want to qualify and they have a strong team. The return leg will be crucial and we are ready for the battle, but we want our fans to be in there cheering us on.”
Troost-Ekong added that the players were aware of the big task ahead and called on the government to ensure that the Abuja stadium’s pitch was in “pristine condition” for the return leg encounter against the Black Stars.
“We loved the pitch of the stadium in Garoua and it helped us play some good football. We would be delighted if the Abuja Stadium is in similar condition for the second leg,” Troost-Ekong said.
Among the players present alongside Musa and Troost-Ekong were Victor Osimhen, Abdullahi Shehu, Sadiq Umar, Jamilu Collins, Frank Onyeka, Semi Ajayi, Kelechi Nwakali, Wilfred Ndidi, Zaidu Sanusi, Joe Aribo, Oghenekaro Etebo, Daniel Akpeyi, Peter Olayinka, Taiwo Awoniyi, Moses Simon, Kelechi Iheanacho, Alex Iwobi, Samuel Chukwueze, Samuel Kalu and Henry Onyekuru.
In his remarks, Dare lauded the players for their efforts at the AFCON, and expressed belief that lessons learnt from the defeat to Tunisia in the Round of 16 would help them overcome the Ghanaians.
“I know you are still unhappy about the loss to Tunisia, but I want you to visit the anger of the defeat by Tunisia on Ghana. We all know about the history of the rivalry between Nigeria and Ghana in football, and this is one fixture that we must not lose.
“We know that dogged spirit is there in you, and we also want you to see yourself as one big family. We have confidence in you that you can do it and will give you all the support. Coaches Eguavoen and Amuneke have smooth access to the NFF president and he will always be ready to provide what you need. As for the pitch of the Abuja stadium, we have experts working there all the time and I assure you it will be in perfect condition for the match.”
President of NFF and FIFA Council Member, Amaju Pinnick added, “Winning the World Cup ticket is non-negotiable.”