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AFCON 2023: We have a big headache ahead as Peseiro warns the Eagles against complacency as Palancas Negras come calling

Posted : 30 January 2024

Head Coach José Peseiro has warned his Super Eagles to keep level heads and manage the euphoria of their quarter-final qualification as they countenance a potentially tough last-8 clash with Angola’s Palancas Negras on Friday.


The Portuguese gaffer gave the advice on Monday, as he has continued to tell the players that the team is yet to win anything and that full consciousness and concentration must be activated ahead of the evening encounter at the Stade Félix Houphout-Boigny.


“I am telling them that we are only in the last eight, that we still have some way to go, and that the farther we go, the tougher the opposition becomes.


''We have played four matches and won three, so we must keep level heads as we go forward.


“Our philosophy is that there are no small teams here at the Africa Cup. Every team qualified to be here, and every team in the knockout phase qualified from the group phase.


''Any team in the last eight is good enough for the trophy. We believe we are good enough for the trophy, but we must continue working and putting out our best on match days.”


The Negras eliminated Namibia’s Brave Warriors with a 3-0 spanking in the Round of 16, Gelson Dala hitting a brace against the regional rivals at the Stade de la Paix in Bouake.


On-field captain William Ekong told that the match against Angola could prove to be the toughest yet for the Eagles, but that he and his teammates are ready for the battle.


“We can no longer expect any easy games. In truth, there have not been easy games here. We have played in Equatorial Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea-Bissau, and Cameroon, and none has turned out to be a picnic.


''From the quarterfinals, it will be a lot tougher because all the teams will believe they are good enough for the trophy.


“We are discussing among ourselves what we have to do. There is no resting on our oars. We saw Guinea eliminate Equatorial Guinea, which emerged as the best team in the group phase.


''Football is like that. "We must be alert for the entire period and do our best to convert the chances that we create.”


Winger Moses Simon also admitted that it would not be a stroll-in-the-park at the Stade Félix Houphouët-Boigny on Friday.


“It is going to be a difficult game, like the ones against Cote d’Ivoire and Cameroon, and even Equatorial Guinea. We must be at our best and focus on the prize.”


Clashes between Nigeria and Angola at the international level have been few and far between, but Nigeria has a couple of scores to settle with the southern African nation.


Angola edged Nigeria to reach the last round of the qualification series for the 1990 FIFA World Cup finals in Italy, but the return leg in Nigeria that the Eagles won 1-0 was under a cloud of tragedy as playmaker Samuel Okwaraji collapsed and died 13 minutes from the end on August 12, 1989.


Several other football fans lost their lives in a stampede that ensued after the game. The first leg in Luanda ended 2-2.


Angola also famously stopped Nigeria from reaching the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals, when the Eagles followed a 0-1 loss in Luanda to draw 1-1 with the Negras in a sunny Sani Abacha Stadium in June 2005.


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