he Super Eagles have been warned against underrating their opponents in Wednesday’s 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifier, the Brave Warriors of Namibia because it could be disastrous.
Former Nigeria international, Fatai Atere who spoke to Newswatch Sports from his USA-base, advised Stephen Keshi-tutored side to approach the game against the Southern Africans as if their lives, literally speaking, depend on its eventual outcome.
The Super Eagles currently sit atop the Group F standings with eight points, two ahead of second-placed Malawi who could only manage a draw against the Namibia in Blantyre on the same day the reigning African champions grabbed a vital 1-0 away win in Kenya.
With two rounds of matches to the end of the second round of World Cup qualifiers in the African continent, a win for the Super Eagles in Windhoek would see the team through to the final round of qualifiers, and with a game to spare, that is, if the Malawians fail to win again at home, this time to Kenya’s Harambee Stars.
So, it is with such scenario in mind that Atere, a member of the historic Golden Eaglets side who won the maiden FIFA U-17 World Cup in China in 1985 (then known as the FIFA/Kodak U-16 Youth Championship), wants the Super Eagles to win the game against Namibians in Windhoek.
“Eagles can’t afford to underrate any team now,” said Atere. That would be very foolish and dangerous.
“All they need to do is take the game to them, play them off the park, stick to their game plan and improve on their movement – on-and-off the ball.
“They weren’t too mobile against Kenya. I think the pitch was to blame; it was very bad. But if they do all these, and approach the game like there is no tomorrow, they will win in Namibia.”
The Super Eagles, after last Wednesday’s victory on the bumpy playing surface of the Moi International Stadium in Kasarani, arrived Namibia on Friday morning.
They are scheduled to travel to Brazil for the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup where they will be up against reigning World Cup holders and European champions Spain, Copa America kings Uruguay, as well as minnows Tahiti, the champions of Oceania.
Atere said that the Confederations Cup is where the real test lies for Keshi’s side as they will be aiming to go a step higher than the Cameroon’s second-place finish at the 2003 tournament in France.
“The real test will be in Brazil,” continued Atere. “Playing against big teams like Spain and Uruguay won’t be easy but I am backing our team to surprise the world.
“We must win our first game against Tahiti and I won’t be surprised if we get a win over Spain and Uruguay too as we like to play against bigger teams.
“Playing against Spain and Uruguay is not going to be easy but they can contain them. And we can do this by not letting them play; start the pressure from their half; that will throw them off their game plan. But it will take good fitness, as well as mass defence and mass attack.”
He added, while making reference to Nigeria’s recent friendly tie against Mexico in Texas: “If they can play Mexico to a two-all draw, they can play anybody.”
The top-two teams at the end of the group stage will thereafter proceed to the semi-finals against the winner and runner-up from Group A comprising of hosts Brazil, Asian champions Japan, North and Central American champions Mexico, and Italy – runners up to Spain at last year’s European Championships.