As the Super Eagles of Nigeria remain the highest-ranked team going to the quarterfinals of the 2023 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) and thereby become a top favorite, their opponent, the Palancras Negras of Angola, have been receiving inducements from their government and corporate organizations to beat the three-time champions.
The quarterfinal between the Super Eagles and the Palancras Negras of Angola is scheduled for the Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Abidjan, Ivory Coast, on Friday at 6 pm.
Corporate organizations in Angola are now offering inducements to the Palancas Negras (Stable Antelopes) with significant offers, as Angolan Bank, Banco Keve, promised each player $9.6K, and the Angolan Diamond Company, Social EP, promised the team a lump sum of $250k.
Also, the Bai Group has already provided $6k to each player for beating Namibia in the Round of 16, while their Telecom Giants, United, gifted each player an iPhone 15 for defeating Namibia, informing them that more is to come if they can stop Nigeria.
On the other hand, the Nigerian government, in a bid to boost the team's morale, paid the backlog of arrears owed to the team, amounting to billions of naira.
Also, a major doubt for the all-important match, the Chippa United FC goalkeeper and Eagles' number one, Stanley Nwabali, has resumed training with the late confirmation that he will be available against Angola.
Nigeria is now a top favorite to lift the cup after the exit of Senegal, Morocco, Egypt, Algeria, and Tunisia, whom football stakeholders in Africa perceive can cage the Super Eagles.
Nigeria has scored in each match they have played, drawing 1-1 against Equatorial Guinea, defeating the Elephants of Ivory Coast by a lone goal, and edging past Guinea Bissau by a lone goal, all at the group stages before defeating the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon 2-0 in a pulsating Round of 16 game. They have scored 5 goals so far and conceded none.
Angola, on the other hand, played to a 1-1 draw with Algeria, dispatched Mauritania 3-2, humbled the Stallions of Burkina Faso 2-0 in the group stages before defeating the Brave Warriors of Namibia 3-0 in the Round of 16 games.
Considering their latest performances, Angola appears to be better scorers, but the fact that Nigeria kept three consecutive clean sheets (not conceding a single goal in a match) against Angola’s two clean sheets may indicate to Angola that there is work to do.
Recall that Nigeria played to a 1-1 draw with Angola on June 18, 2005, in a World Cup match, played another 1-1 draw in a friendly on January 6, 2016, and on January 29, 2018, at the CHAN quarterfinals like this Nigeria won 2-1 in a match handled by Ref Sadok Telmi of Tanzania at the Stade Ibn Batouta, Tangier. Angola first scored through Vladimiro Felix known as Va in the 56th minute before Anthony Okpotu equalized in the 90+2 minute, and during extra time, Gabriel Okechukwu ended arguments by scoring at the 109th minute.
Nigeria, ranked 42 in the world and 6th in Africa, is making her 26th appearance at AFCON. She is a three-time champion with some impressive podium finishes.
Nigeria got Bronze at Ethiopia 76 beating Egypt 3-2; then bagged another Bronze in Ghana 78 beating Tunisia 2-0 and lifted the first AFCON trophy when they hosted in 1980, beating Algeria 3-0. They followed with a Silver medal in three consecutive competitions - Ivory Coast 1984, losing to Cameroon 3-1; at Morocco 88, losing again to Cameroon 0-1, and Algeria 90, losing to Algeria by a lone goal.
Nigeria got Bronze at Senegal 92 beating rivals Cameroon 2-1; and became second-time champions at Tunisia 94 with a 2-1 win over Zambia; but again lost to Cameroon when Nigeria/Ghana hosted in 2000 via 4-3 penalty shootouts after 2-2 scores to bag the Silver.
The Super Eagles got another Bronze with a lone goal victory over Mali at Mali 2002 and back to Tunisia in 2004 Nigeria won Bronze with a lone goal victory over Senegal; at Egypt 2006 Nigeria again beat Senegal 1-0 to win the Bronze; in 2010 at Angola Nigeria beat Algeria by a lone goal to win Bronze; she came back at South Africa 2013 under Stephen Keshi to win the trophy beating the Stallions of Burkina Faso by a lone goal scored by Sunday Mba and in 2019 she got the Bronze at Egypt in a lone goal victory over Tunisia.
The Black Stable Antelopes of Angola, ranked 117 in the world, are not among the top 10 in Africa and have never had a podium finish.
It is interesting to note that five of the surviving eight teams, namely Nigeria, Guinea, Mali, Cote D’Ivoire, and Cape Verde, are from West Africa, meaning that West Africans have more chances at lifting the trophy. South Africa zone has two teams in South Africa and Angola, while DR Congo is from the Central African zone. No North or East African zones are still standing.
If Nigeria beats Angola on Friday, they will meet the winner of the Cape Verde versus South Africa quarterfinals in the semifinals on Wednesday at 6 pm, while the second semifinal will be DR Congo/Guinea versus Mali/Cote D’Ivoire at 9 pm.
Full quarterfinals pairing:
1. Nigeria vs Angola on Friday at 6 pm at Boigny Stadium
2. DR Congo vs Guinea on Friday at 9 pm at Olympic Stadium.
3. Mali vs Ivory Coast on Saturday at 6 pm at Stade Bouke.
4. Cape Verde vs South Africa on Saturday at 9 pm in Yamoussoukro.
CAF has, however, announced that the winner of the tournament will go home with $7 million dollars; the Runners-up $4 million dollars, and there will be two semifinalists who will take home $2.5 million dollars each. Four quarterfinalists will pocket $1.3 million dollars each; eight teams that lost out in the round of 16 will earn $800,000 dollars each; two teams ranked 3rd in their group but fail to qualify for round of 16 will receive $700, 000 dollars each while six teams ranked 4th in each of the six groups will each take $500, 000 dollars.
The Super Eagles are assured $1.3m dollars for being in the quarters but will earn more if they advance.