By James Agberebi:
Former Nigeria international Garba Lawal is unperturbed over the teams the Super Eagles might be drawn with in the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
The third round draw will hold on Friday 24 June, in Cairo, Egypt.
Following the rearrangement of the seeding by FIFA ahead of the draw, the Super Eagles who were demoted from Pot 2 to Pot 3, are likely to face heavyweights like Algeria, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Cameroon, Tunisia and Senegal.
Speaking ahead of Friday's draw, Lawal told Completesportsnigeria.com
"In the qualifiers, we should always expect tough groups. It shouldn't be a case of wishing for the easiest groups. But the most important thing is for our players to be playing week-in, week-out for their clubs which is the number one problem of our football.
"Unlike in the early 1990s and early 2000s when our players were doing well for both club and country, most of the players back then play regularly. But currently, most of our players don't play regularly for their clubs which makes it difficult for the national team and also the coaches.
"There is always a difference between a player that features regularly compared to someone who doesn't play regularly, the fitness and condition level will always be different," Lawal said.
The France 1998 and Korea/Japan 2002 World Cup star, urged the Eagles to take every team seriously.
"Our players need to buckle up. We have a young squad now – the likes of Iwobi and Iheanacho, they need to be playing regularly. And the attitude and character of the players must be there because there are lot of surprises as we can see at the on-going European champion. And when it comes to the qualifiers, it is always difficult to play the smaller nations."
The race for the 2018 FIFA World Cup will commence in October, 2016.