Amodu faces Nigeria rival
© AFP

Shuaibu Amodu faces the man who could succeed him as coach of Nigeria when they play Mozambique in a key CAF Africa Cup of Nations game at Tundavala Stadium on Wednesday.

Reports have linked Mart Nooij from the Netherlands with the awesome task of leading Nigeria against Argentina, Greece and South Korea at the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™. And if Mozambique win the Group C match and qualify for the quarter-finals at the expense of Nigeria, Amodu seems certain to be sacked while the shares of Nooij will inevitably soar.

Pressure on Amodu heightened after a 3-1 loss to defending champions Egypt in their first match before surviving a win-or-quit ultimatum as a Yakubu Aiyegbeni penalty delivered a laboured victory over Benin. Nigerian football officials have told the coach nothing less than a CAF Nations Cup semi-finals place will do although he was fired ahead of the 2002 FIFA World Cup despite finishing third at the African tournament the same year.

Dutch rising star
Nooij caught the eye of Nigeria after his Mambas (Snakes) were unlucky to be held in Maputo and lost to an injury-time goal in Abuja when the countries met in 2010 Nations Cup qualifiers. Before heading south to Mozambique the Dutch coach had a major impact at youth level in the west African state of Burkina Faso, leading the national team to the world championship for the first time.

Egypt, who face Benin in the other group fixture to be staged at the same time in Benguela, have a maximum six points from two outings and are certain of a quarter-finals slot. The other three countries remain in contention to join the 'Pharaohs' with twice champions Nigeria favoured because a draw will suffice while Benin and Mozambique must win to have any chance of surviving the mini-league cull.

Although collecting a solitary point from a possible six and lying bottom of the standings, Mozambique have impressed during their fourth appearance at the biennial African football showcase. They came from two goals behind to draw 2-2 with Benin and matched Egypt for 48 minutes before a second Dario Khan own goal in as many games gifted the title holders a lead they doubled via a late volley.

"We made it very hard for Egypt despite giving away a soft goal that forced us to chase the game. Otherwise it would have been a lot more difficult for the reigning champions to beat us," said Nooij.

But Nigeria midfielder and man of the match against Benin Osaze Odemwingie is convinced his team-mates will emerge victorious and reach the knockout phase as they seek a first African title since beating Zambia 16 years ago in Tunis. "We lacked confidence against Egypt in our first game but were much more relaxed when beating Benin and I believe we will deliver an even better performance on Wednesday," promised the Moscow-based star.

"Mozambique are a team we know having played them twice last year and I am confident we will give our best display so far in Angola, win the match and advance to the last eight."