By Olanrewaju Akojede
Lago – The Media Officer of Super Eagles, Toyin Ibitoye, on Saturday predicted an acid test for the team as they seek their fourth time glory in the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Egypt.
Ibitoye told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that though the 32nd AFCON tournament would be tough, the team would give a 100 per cent fight to win the title.
NAN reports that the Eagles will begin their campaign in the Group B that includes Madagascar, Guinea and Burundi with a game against Burundi on June 22 at the Alexandria Stadium.
Ibitoye told NAN that though many opinions had tilted towards Eagles going through the knockout stage in a group that looks seemingly easy, yet it could be a tricky one.
“The fight is to defend the integrity of Nigeria and try to win our games in the qualifiers before we can be champions. The other teams in our group are not there for a picnic or vacation, they also want to win.
“It will be the battle of those that are well prepared, so we need to go the extra mile and push towards getting results because there are lots of teams that will want to spring surprises in Egypt.
“The AFCON tournament is now bigger and will be tougher because of the new format of 24 teams which means that we will have to play more games. It is not going to be easy.
“The good news, however, is that we are going there to give our 100 per cent fight in it. We will take the matches one at a time, we are in a group where if we work hard, we can top them,” he said.
Ibitoye said that the Eagles would camp in Asaba where they will play a game and then play another friendly match against Senegal in Egypt.
“The team will have few weeks of camping in Asaba, but we want to be in Egypt early to start preparations. By the end of May, we would have the full details of the preparations.
“The plan is for us to get to Egypt at least seven or eight days before our first match. So, in Egypt, we will play a friendly against Senegal because we want to really focus on getting our players fresh.
“There is a need to understand that AFCON is coming up at the end of European football season, so the trick is to get the players fresh and keep them away from injuries.
“It is going to be a tough challenge in Egypt, so the coach has been talking to the players on his approach and the need for them to be fit so that we can come together to play the tournament with full blast,” he said.
Ibitoye said that Egypt remained the tournament favourites considering the fact that they were the host nation and also have a good squad.
“The tournament will be taking place in Egypt so they are the favourites and also have a good squad. Morocco also comes to mind and Senegal.
“The likes of the defending champions, Cameroon and Ghana are potential winners and outsiders such as South Africa, Mali and Guinea; these are teams that can spring surprises,” he said. (NAN)