Nigeria coach Shaibu Amodu has been under pressure since the CAF Africa Cup of Nations began, but his team are now just one victory away from the final. After beating a spirited Zambia outfit on Monday night in Lubango, the Super Eagles made the trip to Luanda to begin preparations for tomorrow's semi-final against their west African neighbours Ghana.
As they arrived in Angola’s capital, the two-time continental champions looked more confident and relaxed after the penalty shootout win over the Chipolopolo. Amodu, however, is not resting on his laurels after an unconvincing performance last time out in which they failed to create many chances.
“We will look at making changes to our squad against Ghana,” he told FIFA.com. “The most important thing for us now is that we have seen some of the areas of concern, and now we have to work on them. As I said, maybe it will be worth getting some fresh legs from the bench and reinforcing our squad.”
We are playing one of the top teams in Africa, and that is a huge task. They have some exciting players, most of whom played at the U-20 World Cup, and those players are hungry to achieve more.
Amodu is anticipating a exciting showdown with Ghana, who will, like Nigeria, appear at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. “We are playing one of the top teams in Africa, and that is a huge task," he said. "They have some exciting players, most of whom played at the U-20 World Cup, and those players are still hungry to achieve more.
"But if you look at our side, we also have some youngsters who have gained experience and are now equal to the task. I don’t want to dwell on what happened against Zambia. That is history now. We have to face tomorrow, and that means we have to work a bit harder today.”
The last time Nigeria reached the Cup of Nations final was in 2000, when they co-hosted the tournament with Ghana. That match ended in defeat by Cameroon on penalties, while their previous campaign two years ago ended in elimination at the hands of their forthcoming opponents in the last eight.
The Super Eagles' last triumph was way back in 1994, when an Emmanuel Amunike double inspired a 2-1 reverse of Zambia in the decider, but they are eager to become African champions for a third time and earn themselves a huge confidence boost to take to South Africa, where they will face Argentina, Greece and Korea Republic in Group B.
“(Against Zambia) we did not play too well, but it was a good experience for the team," said Amodu. "We are not at our peak right now, but we’re improving all the time and in five months, we will be much better."