The Super Eagles of Nigeria will battle Zambia’s Chipolopolo today 9 October in the first leg of their 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
Image: Rainford Kalaba
Scheduled to hold in Ndola, the match is also the first game for Group B, which has been tagged “group of death” with the inclusion of Cameroon and Algeria.
Out of the four teams in Group B, Zambia’s Chipolopolo is the only side which is yet to play at the World Cup finals.
Meanwhile, Zambia captain Rainford Kalaba says the fact that Nigeria’s Super Eagles are pursuing a record sixth appearance at the global football tournament will not faze his teammates.
Rainford spoke with the press, saying: “We are both former African champions and it will be a tough game, but we expect a good result on Sunday.
“We will all put 100% on Sunday and it will be a good thing to give the new coach a first win in his first game
“The players are looking good and looking forward to the game. The confidence is there and the boys are smiling. We are expecting a good game on Sunday.
“Football is played on pitch. It’s how we prepare ourselves. By the final whistle we will know who carries the day.
“The fans must rally be behind the team, this game is crucial not just for the players, but the whole country,” the 30-year-old TP Mazembe star said, hoping the turnout from fans will be heartwarming.
“And we know that when the Levy Stadium is full, we always have good results.”
Like Nigeria, Zambia failed to qualify for next year’s AFCON in Gabon and Kalaba said that failure is behind them and what is important now are the World Cup qualifiers.
” [On Zambia’s failure to secure a place in next year’s AFCON scheduled to hold in Gabon and Kalaba] Obviously, we were all disappointed not to qualify, but we have moved forward and we have to prepare for subsequent games because they are more important now,” he said.
Nigeria suffered the same fate as Zambia though the Super Eagles are current champions.
Zambia won their AFCON trophy in 2012, while Nigeria’s Super Eagles have been crowned champions on three occasions – 1980, 1994 and 2013.