The 46-year-old believes the Super Eagles have all it takes to reach the final play-off round with ease following Tuesday’s draw
Victor Ikpeba has thrown his weight behind Nigeria to progress from their 2022 World Cup qualifying group effortlessly.
The three-time African champions have been drawn along with Cape Verde, Central African Republic and Liberia in Group C, with the Super Eagles being the highest-ranked side.
Ikpeba, who featured for the West Africans at the 1994 and 1998 World Cups, is confident Gernot Rohr’s men will have a good qualifying outing, although he warned Cape Verde may pose a big threat to their qualification target.
“Nigeria will win all their home matches, Cape Verde can cause some problems but they cannot stand on the way of the Super Eagles,” Tidesports source.
“CAR and Liberia are not a match but Super Eagles cannot afford to underrate them. The coach is very good and Nigeria has some of the best players in the world
“They can beat any team in the world and why not win the 2022 World Cup in Qatar?”
The winner of the group is guaranteed a place in the final play-off round, where the five teams to represent the African continent will be decided.
Meanwhile, former Nigeria international Yisa Sofoluwe has warned the Super Eagles to be wary of Cape Verde when hostilities begin in the second round phase of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup.
The Super Eagles were drawn in a seemingly easy second round Group C that houses Cape Verde, Central African Republic and Liberia during the 2022 World Cup qualifying draw held in Cairo on Tuesday but Sofoluwe who earned 40 international caps during his heyday with the national team has called for caution.
He disclosed that there were no small teams again in football and that with only the group leaders making it to the final round of the qualifiers, Cape Verde who played at the quarter final stage in their debut appearance at the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa in 2013 as well as President George Weah’s Liberia could pose great threats to the Super Eagles ambition of qualifying.
“We are in a group that we should easily qualify from but knowing the unpredictability of football, I want to appeal to the Super Eagles to take every game seriously,” said Sofoluwe who scored a goal in his impressive career with the Super Eagles.”
“We must prepare very well and respect our opponents if we are to qualify. Cape Verde, Central African Republic and Liberia are not in Nigeria’s class but they can shock us if we underrate them.
“Cape Verde surprised many at the AFCON (South Africa 2013) where they got to the quarter final before get narrowly lost out (to Ghana). We cannot joke with a nation like that,” warned Sofoluwe who was nicknamed the ‘Dean of Defence’ during his days with the Super Eagles.
Sofoluwe, who appeared at two AFCON in 1984 and 1988 during his glittering football career but now a coach still tipped the Eagles to pick the ticket ahead of their Group C rivals but noted that Nigeria must do the right thing for that to be possible.
‘I Can Discover Ballon d’Or Winners In Nigeria’
Ex-Nigeria international Usman Abdallah has declared that he can help the country groom future Ballon d’Or winners if he is handed the U20 job.
Abdallah, who led Enyimba to win the 2019 Nigeria Professional Football League and a Confederation Cup semi-final finish, is favourite to replace Paul Aigbogun for the Flying Eagles’ head coach role.
His outstanding CV features a Uefa A license, a degree in football coaching and team management (France) and a Strength and Conditioning level 1 coaching certificate in Australia.
According to reports, the Nigeria Football Federation will announce the Franco-Nigerian in the coming days, a claim the tactician is unsure of when quizzed by newsmen.
“Just like every other person, I applied for the job but I’m yet to get confirmation if I was picked or not.
“Nigeria is my country and it will be nice if I eventually get this role because it will be a big chance to serve. Also, I have what it takes to discover future Ballon d’Or winners for the country.
“Without sounding immodest, I strongly believe that I will excel in this position not only because of my wealth of experience but because of my closeness to grassroots football.
“As I have always said, this level deserves a lot of serious work because players picked at this level form a pivot of future Super Eagles,”he told newsmen.
After a failed expedition at the 2019 Fifa U20 World Cup in Poland, Nigeria will be hoping to qualify for Indonesia 2021 through the Africa U20 Cup of Nations scheduled for Mauritania.
Champions, Europa Leagues Finals Likely For August
The Champions League and Europa League look increasingly likely to be played exclusively in August after more talks about the remainder of the 2019-20 season on Wednesday.
Uefa told the 55 associations on Tuesday there was still the possibility of the competitions being played throughout June, July and August.
But Tidesports source understands that the latest discussions revolved almost exclusively around a plan to complete the domestic leagues by 31 July, with European competition following after that.
Nothing definitive has been agreed but Uefa is keen to leave all options on the table for as long as possible given the general uncertainty across Europe and in the knowledge there is no guarantee the season will be finished.
However, there is a view that travel restrictions are more likely to have eased in August, which would be necessary for a cross-border competition.
The scenario envisaged would be for the quarter-finals and semi-finals of the respective European competitions to be played as two-legged ties between 11 and 22 August, although these could yet become one-off games.
In the plans now being discussed, there would be some flexibility for domestic fixtures to be played in August, should a July conclusion prove impossible.
The Premier League has nine rounds of fixtures remaining but in Spain and Italy, two countries that have been badly affected, there are still 11 and 12 rounds left respectively – although both have fewer cup games to fit into their schedules.
Uefa hopes the situation will become clearer in the next fortnight but completing the season in this way would cause the least disruption to its qualification competition for the 2020-21 season, which was supposed to start at the end of June but has been delayed indefinitely.
S’Eagles’ll Miss Mikel, Ighalo -Etebo
John Obi Mikel and Odion Ighalo would remain a big miss for Nigeria, concedes Oghenekaro Etebo, with the Super Eagles still coming to terms with their retirement.
After the Super Eagles clinched third-place at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, the duo drew the curtains on their international careers.
Mikel, 32, was the first to bow out before Egypt 2019 top scorer Ighalo followed the path of the former Chelsea star.
Coach Gernot Rohr is prepared to put faith in the likes of Joe Aribo, Alex Iwobi and Victor Osimhen as replacements for the duo.
The Getafe man said it was clear that the three-time African kings would miss Mikel and Ighalo for their leadership attributes, but believes Osimhen can fill the vacuum left by the Manchester United striker.
“They are leaders who we are going to be missed in the dressing room,” he stated.
“Mikel was a leader; I recall how he helped us during the Olympics when we had issues during our preparations for the Games. Not because I played with him but for the impact he had on me as a player.
“They helped the team make vital decisions during tough times and I guess it was just time for them to move on.
“Ighalo on his part is a goal poacher that we also miss but thank God that we have another goal poacher in [Victor] Osimhen, but we have to be patient with him to settle in well into that role.”
After the coronavirus pandemic, Rohr is expected to begin life without the retired players as Nigeria would be hoping to qualify for the 2021 Afcon billed for Cameroon.
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