By James Agberebi:
Former Nigeria international Friday Ekpo has warned the home-based Super Eagles to expect a less-than-friendly reception from Benin Republic in Sunday’s 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) play-off in Cotonou, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.
The home-based Eagles will be guests of Benin Republic in the first leg of the final round of qualifiers before hosting them a week later in Kano.
The winners over both legs will qualify for the 2018 CHAN in Kenya.
Looking ahead to the game, Ekpo who was in the Super Eagles team that beat Benin Republic 1-0 during the 1992 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers, reminisced on how the Eagles under Clemens Westerhof fared back then.
“When we got to Benin Republic it was the Nigerian ambassador at that time that received us not the host country,” Ekpo told Completesportsnigeria.com.
“All our food was taken from there. We went straight to the ambassador’s house and were well taken care of. We got there and the next day we played and won the game. It was not as if we spent days in Benin when we got there.
“It was a tough game. We expected everything that we saw on that day. But we made sure we didn’t deviate from what the coach asked from us. So we went ahead and did what we needed to do and God being on our side, through hard work we were able to succeed in winning the game.”
The former Iwuanyanwu midfielder charged the Salisu Yusuf-led side to give their all in order to come out with a favourable result.
“I want the home-based Eagles to expect a tough game,” he told Completesportsnigeria.com. “Right from the day they arrive in Benin Republic, they should expect tough opposition because the French-speaking countries hate to lose. They like to put in everything to make sure that they win their game. If at the end of the day they don’t win, they will know that they have put up a great show of support for their team.
“I will want the home-based Eagles to put up a great challenge to them and make sure they exhibit everything the coach has taught them so that they will succeed at the end of the day.”
The Eagles coach Salisu Yusuf has named 19-man squad for the match. The squad will travel to Cotonou on Friday from nearby Lagos.