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2021 AFCON Qualifiers: Super Eagles Players Okay Decision To Travel To Benin By Boat

2021 AFCON Qualifiers: Super Eagles Players Okay Decision To Travel To Benin By Boat

Ahead of Saturday’s 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Benin, Super Eagles players have accepted the decision of the Nigeria Football Federal (NFF) to convey the team by boat to Porto-Novo for as long as it is safe.

Recall that some weeks ago the NFF President, Amaju Pinnick announced the move to travel by boat instead of traveling by chartered flight, a decision which was also accepted by the Super Eagles coach, Gernot Rohr.

Although there were mixed reactions to the traveling method from fans and football pundits in Nigeria, however, some key members of the Super Eagles such as Leon Balogun, Joe Aribo, Henry Onyekuru, and William Troost-Ekong have accepted the decision.

In the words of Balogun, “I guess we have to be okay with it, I will say it’s a bit unusual but that’s just how it is. If they change it, it’ll be good if they don’t, we’ll be fine but the most important thing is that we get there in one piece, and win the game,” Balogun added.

Aribo on his side, said, “Traveling by sea, it is what it is, we can’t use that as an excuse. We know what we have to do mentally and that is to win the match. I have never traveled by sea before.

As for Troost-Ekong, he said, “As long as it is safe and we get there as quickly as possible, then It is fine.”

On Onyekuru’s part, he said, “It will be my first time traveling by sea but I don’t really mind. All that matters to me and my teammates is to wear the jersey, represent our country, and win the game,” in-form Galatasaray forward Henry Onyekuru said.


By Augustine Akhilomen

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  • gowetok 4 months ago

    I pray and hope you guys arrive safe and also pick up a result in Benin in Jesus name , Amen

  • Obidee 4 months ago

    Stories when the comes no excuses o

  • pompei 4 months ago

    Safety is the most important thing right now. I hope those waterways are safe for travel. Still can’t believe this is the mode of travel the NFF chose for the team.
    I hope they will be making the trip with maximum security. Just in case.

    • Omo9ja 4 months ago

      @pompei, what is the responsibility of the national coach?

      Don’t tell me he wasn’t there when they, NFF were making this plan.

      What is the role of the NFF president?

      This shows that they are not competent.

      They lack vision and understanding of the game.

      The coaching crew has no value in front of the NFF and that is the reason why NFF are kicking them around like Lagos Moluę and danfo buses. What a shame.

      We are playing just Benin and Lesotho we are putting pressure on ourselves like this?

      We have great squad still, we don’t have any trust in this team?

      The coach can’t tell NFF the plan is not suitable for the team because of what is going on in the country?

      What a coach.

      This is why I love Mr. Westerhof.

      So painful we are in this situation. Hmm, what can I do?. It is well. Safe trip. God bless Nigeria!!!

      • Dr. Drey 4 months ago

        Oga speak for yourself. It is you who doesn’t have trust in the team. It his your hatred that has blinded your reasoning. We have trust in the team and we are 100% sure they are getting the job done in Benin.

        NFF says they dont have money for flight, what should Rohr do…?? Kill himself…? or jump down from the 4th floor of the NFF secretariat…?? Or use his own salary that has not been paid for months to fly the team to Benin…?? Have you not heard the coach expressing his reservations about this arrangement in almost all his interviews….?? Why cant you sponsor the trip since you are so concerned…?

        Mr man speak for yourself…..we trust the SE, and we are NOT under any pressure…it is your hatred and the fear that this PE teacher Mechanic Belmadi’s boy is about to meet another target again, something your gaudiola-ic magicians couldn’t do, that is putting you under pressure…..LMAO…every dint of progress is always bad news for hungry haters….LMAO

      • Abdul 4 months ago

        I’ve never seen anyone with so much hate…

      • Chima E Samuels 4 months ago

        Omo9ja many times you no suppose dey write, you no fit dey blame coach for everything. This topic doesn’t even call for blame at anyone no dey let them use you shine for here. When you relax you’ll make the right points instead of shooting amiss.

        • Omo9ja 4 months ago

          @Chima E Samuels, “Omo9ja many times you no suppose dey write, you no fit dey blame coach for everything. Traveling by sea is fun”

          Hmm, interesting. So, why are you or are we blaming President Buhari, Nigeria president because nothing is working in Nigeria presently?

          Why are you or are we blaming NFF president because Super Eagles have what it takes to rule in Africa and globally but the team have failed do so?

          Who is the head of the department? Oga Rohr? So, who do you wanted me to blame?

          We have to blame the coach and the NFF president now.

          Do you think I’m just talking without thinking?

          It is well. God bless Nigeria!!!

    • Dr. Drey 4 months ago

      Even from the comments of the players, you will perceive a tone of involuntary resignation…more like ‘wetin man go do na’. May God help us. We are back to the 1930s when teams travelled by sea to the World cup

  • Ako AMADI 4 months ago

    The Super Eagkes’boat must be accompanied by the Nigerian Navy to ward off mpossible pirate attack. The two governments, Benin abdvNigerian can easily agree on thst. Simple.

  • Chima E Samuels 4 months ago

    Traveling by sea is normal, i hope you guys are not thinking its those local boat or canoe. Traveling by sea is fun, to me this adventure will destress and boost the players morale. No cause for alarm people have been traveling by sea and security shouldn’t be an issue.

  • Emmanuel 4 months ago

    @CHIMA you simply took that from my mouth.Dont understand why we make issues all the time from nothing.The fact that some of the players have not travelled by boat before does not make it bad.Osimhen travelled a long boat ride or u may call it Yatch to see his club president before signing for Napoli.Haaaba, when has traveling on boat become an issue.Many of this players do it for pleasure whenever they travel to the Caribbean.

    If the English National team did it then it is ok.But cos it is the Nigerian Super Eagles it is poverty and wrong.The only issue that may arise is in respect of the security,like Pinnick said on Arise TV,he’s working with Lagos State Government and other security outfit to ensure that they have a safe journey.It is going to be the best experience ever.Like CHIMA said we are not talking about a canoe here.I have taken a boat ride from Ikorodu to the island before and Lagos state Terminal is one of the best I have seen anywhere in the world.

    On omo9ja,sincerely it will be nice no one responds to him anymore.Even he does not make any sense to himself.Every point made by Omogja is usually bereaved of any cohesion and meaning.Otherwise how is a choice of boat ride the fault of the coach,will he transport the players with his money? I have decided to read some comments here and simply move on.

    Someone here said I should read the role of an assistant very before I make any comment concerning Yobo. The coach mentioned Yusuf as been helpful in the choice of local players to the se,and Pam…Someone jumped at it to discredit Yobo as being a ball boy.Now,will all the assistant of Rohr be involved in scouting players? The staffs are set up in such a way that they all have role for each person.Yobo has his own role not necessarily to scout local players just as Adelakun.We should always avoid allowing our hatred take away the true sense of reasoning in us.

    As far as am concerned Pinnick remains the best NFF president in history and Rohr the best coach.

    • Chima E Samuels 4 months ago

      @Emmauel we agree with you that Pinnick and Min Dare are one of the best but I won’t add Coach Rohr to the list of best coaches Trophywise nor our general team play whereby the Nigerian players attack with flair and demolish teams from all channels. These days we can’t put our stakes on Nigeria even though we except a win but can’t put your stakes because the coach is having problems winning key matches, he always succumbs to any technically skilled coach at second halves what does this imply? Nigeria greatest coach Remains Westernhof. I am still hoping and wishing if we need a foreign coach we should fight to land Herve Renard once he leaves Morocco. I feel with Renard and Nigeria assisted by Siasia should he overcome fifa harmmer a world cup is very possible. With Manu Garba restored to the junior teams and Amunike directors of football. The equation is very easy we know the right people for various positions in this country but only God knows why we keeping appointing the wrong people.

      Rohr is good but our target as a nation should be gold at all time and if we are ambitious we should get the best at least by our standard we should be able to pay Herve Renard. I believe every passionate and honest football lover can tell his capabilities and if not you can refer to his matches for Zambia where he created a dreaded team from nothing. A coach who doesn’t make excuses he just does his job, two afcon with two different countries yet he’s still hungry for more. He understands African football so well, yes he once rejected an approach from NFF as a result of Nigeria’s security fear of Boko haram but we should make him know that politics are not targeted to his job as no foreign coach has ever died in Nigeria before nor suffered any form of attacks.

      For now we have Rohr but if we want to move one step forward we should go further and seek technical masters because football without technical skills is never a pleasant experience.

  • Positive 4 months ago

    That’s the spirit, it’s all about positive vibes and positive mental attitude, leave these NFF people to their clownish tricks and just DO YOUR JOB TO THE BEST OF YOUR ABILITIES. Dasol!

  • Ako AMADI 4 months ago

    Travelling by sea a day to such a crucial game is risky. Besides security issues, sea sickness no matter how short the trip could be a problem. These are professional footballers not sailors

    • Chima E Samuels 4 months ago

      Wonders will never end Ako Amadi what is sea sickness? Are the players Agric fowl that they’ll get sick because they go on a cruise? na wa o.

      • Footballfanatic 4 months ago

        Lmaoooooooo. My brother sea sickness for a boat ride of 1hr 30 mins max.

        • Ako Amadi 4 months ago

          The boat ride is 2 hours. Sone passengers are likely to start vomiting because of the turbulence

          • @Ako Amadi, people get car sickness also, people have air sickness as well. Do you know that every aeroplane seat has a bag for you to vomit into (or should have)?

            The fact that one may start vomiting, does not mean that they become unable to recover within a hour.

            Maybe everyone should walk to Cotonou. lolz

    • Profjeff 4 months ago

      I am surprised people do not understand what motion sickness is, especially when most of the players are travelling by sea for the very first time 24 hours before the match

  • Footballfanatic 4 months ago

    Just saw the starting line up of the game BTW England U21 and Switzerland U21. Eze is on the bench and not even starting same with Noni madueke. I’m sorry but it is quite disrespectful for these guys to prefer being benches for U21 than playing for our national team. I don’t think we should beg players but rather embrace the ones who are willingly committed and not forced to commit.

  • I hope all the nff officials going to watch the match will be in the same boat as the players. Im still not comfortable with our players travelling by boat

  • Abdul handsy 4 months ago

    Guys! pls calm down! Nothing bad about this travelling arrangements tomorrow. I assure you all that after tomorrow’s journey via sea the players will wish it again and again!

    It has been tested and trusted based on what we have heard so far then, what’s the squabblings all about here sirs?

    It promises to be a soothsailing comes tomorrow by HIS GRACE.

    My starting lineup comes Saturday:


    Aina Ekong. Balogun. Zaidu

    Chukwueze. Ndidi. Aribo. Iwobi

    Iheanacho. Osimehn

    Prediction. A repeated score of 1-2 in favour of Nigeria.

    Always give out peace if you want peace!

    • Chima E Samuels 4 months ago

      Line up make sense let see if the coach will affirm.

    • pompei 4 months ago

      This is also a good line up. Iheanacho and Osimhen will wreck havoc upfront, with Iwobi and Chukwueze on the wings. And while we are more solid defensively with the 3-5-2 system, which is my preferred formation, we are more dangerous offensively when we play 4-4-2, but we are a bit more vulnerable defensively. So if the coach chooses 4-4-2, he must drum it into the boys to stay focused on defensive duties!

  • Kingston 4 months ago

    Nice one @abdul, I liked your comment. Although I don’t agree with the formation. This formation is likely going to be the one super eagles will start with. If I were the coach of the Benin republic and hopefully have the players I need, against the lineup you mentioned, I will play two fast, skillful but most importantly, technical wingers. They will consistently play close to the touch line, to create space in the center half of the defense. The focus here is to take advantage of the poor defensive decisions sanusi (primary target), iwobi and chukwueze always make. Their lack of defensive concentration cost super eagles against Sierra Leone. From the match against Tunisia friendly I noticed Sanusi reckless overlapping, leaving unwarranted space behind. Also Chukwueze poor defensive contribution in critical cases is noticeable. However, iwobi is better in helping defence than chukwueze, his lack of stamina is his demerit. When exhaustion kicks in, Iwobi will sooner or later make that error that may cost super eagles a goal. This is why I need technical wingers. They should be able to take advantages of the holes in our defense when they open and utilize it effectively. If super eagles were going with Samuel kalu and Moses Simon it will be harder to achieve this.
    I will also be playing with a high pressure-intensity game. The aim is to put pressure on super eagles defense through coordinated marking. My reason for doing this is the peculiar trait of super eagles defense crumbling after being pressured for a period of time. Ask Argentina, Algeria, etc.
    For me, I prefer super eagles to start with a 3-5-2
    Balogun – ekong – awaziem
    Aina – aribo – iwobi – ndidi – Sanusi
    Iheanacho – osimhen

    This system will be defensive in nature. I don’t want iwobi (no10), iheanacho and osimhen to be burdened by heavy defensive duties. All their work rate should be spent on the opponent’s half. That’s why I go with 5 natural defenders. The team primary assignment is to get the ball to the trio at all times. Because of the short training days before the match, most of the players will perform the same function they do with their club that makes them successful. Ndidi screens the defense and upon ball recovery, pass to the nearest man. Aribo will at most times be this man. Though I personally feel etebo will execute this role better than aribo. I find it difficult to leave aribo on bench with his current form. Osimhen loves to be with the ball almost the time, probably that’s the reason for his all round energetic play. Iheanacho will be my “raumdeuter” – simple ‘space investigator’ or ‘space interpreter’. Iwobi the King should just do what he does best – playmake. Using aina and sanusi as wingbacks will means less defensive errors on the flank, that’s because they each have a center back behind them.

    Here also lies the disadvantage of national football: short time for training. That’s why when I here Rohr critics saying rohr should find a team pattern that fits to the playing style of Paul Onuachu I laugh. With what time? Perhaps, is our available attackers flourishing in the system? A very strong yes. Defend deep and soak pressure, use the fast wingers for counter attacks. This worked with Ighalo who ended up as the highest goal scorer in Afcon qualifiers and the tournament proper. It is the same system that is making Osimhen currently the highest goal scorer in this qualifiers. Iheanacho that is not a natural pure 9 is doing better than onuachu in this system of play. And you can bet that Sadiq will play comfortably with this pattern. So Rohr critics are telling me that I should spend my 3-5 days of training to try to get my whole team to play with a style that will integrate onuachu. Because he is who? Lewandoski or Suarez? Leave hatred aside, there’s little reason why one should be against Rohr all things considered.
    Super Eagles all three points!
    Super Eagles all the best! God bless Rohr! God bless the players, both ours and Benin.

    • Dr. Drey 4 months ago

      This is the kind of person that will tell me he played football “to the highest level”, without needing to show me the picture he snapped with Alfredo di Stefano at Wembly stadium….LMAO…or Ferenc Puskas at Onikan Stadium and I wouldn’t even doubt him by an inch.

      My brother…..YOU SABI…!!! May the source where thine wisdom springeth forth never run dry.

      Make anybody nor add or subtract from wetin you talk ….make dem jus leave am as e dey so….10/10….football really sabi in people and football people too sabi am.

      • JimmyBall 4 months ago

        @Dr. Drey… Even Mourinho can dissect any team tactic for you but he did not even succeed at goalkeeping he tried his hands on… Football analyses does not need you to have played before doing a good job at it, you only need to understand the theories of formations. I still remain with my personnel deployed for the tentative 3-5-2 that some people were not comfortable with… What role does Iwobi play at Everton where he is not even a first team constant feature… He is a wing back largely at Everton, if a player with such soft defensive disposition can play wing back, then any other wide midfielder who has better ball hustle can… Ofcourse you know an Olayinka has the capacity to do that better than Iwobi… Diego Godin is same heigt as Ebuehi, if he plays in a 3man centre back, sure then an Ebuehi can, Aina who is shorter than Ebuehi is well know for playing centre left back at Fulham, so what was so absurd about my list afterall… a good defender should be able to play anywhere across the back four and in whichever formation. My first choice 3man centre half will be Tosin (Middle), Balogun(Right) and Torunarigha(left) as I already said before… Since we do not have two of those guys yet… I will play a technical Ebuehi on the right, a solid Sanusi on the left and then Balogun Middle of a 3man centre back now… Ekong is slow and error-prone, he is also clumsy and lack good sense of positioning and man-marking… he is always guilty of ball-watching… It’s Balogun covering his ass always. I will not play Umeruo because he is slow naturally as you have said yourself before… I will not play Collins(slow) also in a back 3, when you play 3 at the back… You need solid, fast and technical players, it’s little to do with muscle… I told you I know Ujah went to school with his older sister and have been with him several times, I told of a picture because you see that as big and the fact you said he simply was not good enough that’s why he did not perfrome against Tahiti, I told you it’s stage fright, because I asked him, much was expected from him… Ujah was not the only player who did not live up to expectation at confederation cup 2013, a certain Gambo Mohammed could not do a simple tap-in against Uruguay facing an empty net too… In my Super Eagles team I don’t care, Olayinka will be starting every match on the left and sure there will be space for Junior Ajayi in the attacking midfield role… Let’s see if Aribo will not struggle against Benin Republic again… African football deferent from European football what is largely soft except in Italy. Junior Ajayi plays that gritty football every week and he plays for the best club in Africa as a regular despite series of Egyptian national team members in his squad… He is nit inferior to anyone in Super Eagles… I will not move from an AL Ahly to a team in Europe just for playing in Europe. He has to move only when something better than where is arrives… If people playing in Cyprus and Turkey could be invited to national team, I see no reason why a good player in either Tunisia League, South Africa or Egypt shouldn’t be invited. The Sierra leonian team that we could not beat mostly play in obscure leagues and team… football no be by club wey person the play alone. You can be in Real Madrid, if you are not a regular, someone playing in Orlando Pirates but a regular is better than you in usefulness to any national team… Go ask Odion Ighalo how far about his experience at Man United.

    • Choi… @kingston, sense dey ya head!!!! See as u finish work… U Sabi dis ball o… Anyways we wish SE d very best come Saturday…

    • 21st century coach 4 months ago

      @kingston please open my freezer collect one freshyo. Perfect lineup

    • Brilliantly articulated. Too marks Kingston; great read.

    • Ayphillydegreat 4 months ago

      Lovely write up @Kingston. This could easily be our main first 11 going forward depending on form and fitness. Maybe an Etebo can gate crash this eleven, but like you said I will prefer an inform Aribo in that midfield. Aribo is more dynamic and marauding than Etebo while Oghenekaro is a bit more physical, but Aribo has shown in recent games especially in that second leg in Freetown that he can withstand physical African football. Therefore, Aribo starts ahead of Etebo in that midfield for me. Though the final decision is with the gaffer. Another thing is will Chukwueze be benched?? We just have to wait and see. Iheanacho and Osimhen definitely must be on the pitch together from the get go. That should be our plan A in attack. I think I’ll prefer Uzoho in goal based on pedigree and experience. Our performance against Benin in Porto Novo will determine how far the SuperEagles will go in Cameroon. All things being equal only Etebo, Chukwueze and a return to form Musa can gate crash this 11. However, having them available on the bench with the likes of Sadiq, Kalu, Simon, Moffi, Olise, Ejaria, Lookman and co simply means we have a fantastic generation of SuperEagles to look forward to. #FLY LIKE AN EAGLE INTO THE FUTURE# 

    • Handsy Handsy 4 months ago

      Weldone @Kingston: obviously, you have a better and more viable option there bro. All is for the good of Nigeria you are highly well come sir.

      May GOD ALMIGHTY leads the technical crew aright to select the best and most suitable players to start the match comes tomorrow. Ameen.

      But guys I am still not happy with the way switching eligible players to playing for the super eagles is being delayed these days fa! Most especially from England…

      Give out peace always in order to receive peace always….1luv guys!

  • pompei 4 months ago

    Kingston’s line up of 3-5-2 is a great one for our match in Benin. Historically under Rohr, we are very difficult to beat when we deploy this system. And Iwobi and Iheanacho on the pitch together is exciting to contemplate. These two have always been partners in crime for Nigeria. Recall how they destroyed Zambia in Lusaka during the 2018 world cup qualifiers. And how they combined to see off Argentina in the 4-2 spanking. With this 3-5-2 system, our defense is tough to breach, and we have guys upfront that can create chances and score goals.
    My only wahala is this traveling by boat thing. I expect that the NFF will be traveling with the team. If I hear later that they traveled by air, it will not sit well! That means they value their own lives and safety more than the team. Let them make the trip by boat with the team. Anything they meet along the way will be upon their own head. Safe travels to Rohr, the players and the coaching staff!

  • Rohr won’t bench Iheanacho. He will definitely start alongside Osimhen. This is likely how the line up will look like tomorrow.


    Awaziem Ekong Balogun Aina


    Chukwueze Iwobi


  • It appears coach rohr will be sticking to his beloved 4-3-3 formation if fillers from the training camp of the Super Eagles is anything to go by. He split the team into two for a practice match, with one team comprising of players such as:







    The second team comprising of players such as






    Hope I got the players right? Guess the team that won? Kelechi’s team won the practice match with kelechi scoring twice and iwobi scoring the only goal for his side.
    Its just a practice game and one shouldn’t read much into it. But im suspecting that rohr may probably bench kelechi for osimhen. Kelechi Will probably enter after the half time. Hopefully the eagles would have scored before then. The midfield looks better with 3 combative midfielders in it. With the team expecting players like olise and ejaria (hopefully), the midfield will only get better with time. Whatever the formation used or players selected I wish the team victory in their two matches

  • Bentopsy 4 months ago

    How? Musiala declared for Germany last month, debut this month despite playing competitive match for England junior teams. May be Germany application carries weight than that of Nigeria