African champions Nigeria, in upbeat mood, arrived in Salvador, north-eastern Brazil Tuesday afternoon ahead of their much-hyped clash with South American champions Uruguay on Thursday.
The Eagles are majestically perched at the top of Group B of the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup following a 6-1 trouncing of Tahiti in Belo Horizonte on Monday evening.
Spain’s Furia Roja (Red Fury) who edged Uruguay 2-1 in the first match of the pool on Sunday night, are second behind the African champions on goals difference.
While the Spaniards will look to pile up the goals against Tahiti on Thursday, the Eagles have confidence they can overpower Oscar Tabarez’La Celeste and earn a semi final ticket ahead of their final group phase tango with world champions Spain in Fortaleza on Sunday.
NFF President, Aminu Maigari, understandably elated by the team’s goal-rious performance against the Oceanians on Monday, has charged the boys to increase the tempo against the tactically-aware Uruguayans.
“The Eagles have started well, and they are perching on top of the table as expected. We believe they have the strength and the savvy to go all the way and do our country and Africa proud.
“I want them to forget about the win over Tahiti and appreciate that Uruguay is a different ball game. They should work very hard and come out on top on Thursday,” Maigari said.
Salvador, the capital of Bahia State, is home to about 2.7 million people and is Brazil’s third most populous city. It was Brazil’s first capital city until 1763. It is also regarded as the black capital of Latin America, as more than 80 per cent of its inhabitants are of African descent.
In other words, the African champions will not lack support inside the renovated Arena Fonte Nova when they clash with the Uruguayans starting from 7pm Brazil time (11pm Nigeria time) on Thursday.
Coach Stephen Keshi has also been telling his boys to believe in their ability as the boys cruised into the Hotel De Ville Tuesday afternoon.
“Nobody gave us the chance to triumph at the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa. We love the status of underdogs that we have here and it will help us to achieve our objective of making Nigeria and Africa proud.”
Keshi was in the Nigeria squad that spent close to three months training and playing friendly matches in Brazil before going ahead to win the Africa Cup of Nations on home soil in 1980. He missed the final cut because Brazilian Coach Otto Gloria, who took Portugal to third place at the 1966 FIFA World Cup in England, felt he was too
However, Keshi has been eager to give the younger generation in his team good opportunities to showcase their wares, with the likes of Kenneth Omeruo, Ogenyi Onazi, Ahmed Musa, Nnamdi Oduamadi and Brown Ideye appearing to enjoy every moment of it.
“We are boarding now and we expect to land at 1.45pm (5.45pm Nigeria time). It is a flight of 80 minutes from Belo Horizonte. The team is in very high spirit. Everyone’s looking forward to Thursday’s match,” Enebi Achor, Team Administrator, said on telephone from the Belo
After Thursday’s showdown with La Celeste, the Super Eagles’ train will move to Fortaleza for the much-anticipated clash with world and European champions Spain inside the Estadio Castelao on Sunday.