14 October 2014 17:06
Africa Cup of Nations holders Nigeria head into a crucial qualifier against Sudan in the midst of discord both on and off the pitch.
Shockingly, Nigeria sit bottom of Group A with just one point from their three games so far, and realistically must beat third-placed Sudan on Wednesday to stand any hope of progressing.
Newly elected Nigeria Football Federation president Amaju Pinnick has piled on the pressure by criticising the team’s “embarrassing” and “awful” qualifying performances.
Coach Stephen Keshi hit back, claiming some are out to “sabotage” his team’s chances, and urged Nigeria’s supporters to get behind the players in Abuja.
“We just hope that the fans will come out and encourage the players, and also support them. They also have to be patient with the players, and try not to boo them,” Keshi said.
By contrast, Group A leaders South Africa can all-but seal their place at Morocco 2015 with a win over Congo.
In Group B, leaders Algeria are out to maintain their 100 per cent record against Malawi, while Mali host Ethiopia, and Group C sees top-placed Gabon visit second-placed Burkina Faso and Lesotho play Angola.
Cameroon of Group D will be out to improve on Saturday’s 0-0 draw in Sierra Leone when Johnny McKinstry’s side visit Yaounde, with Ivory Coast and Congo DR facing off in the pool’s other fixture.
Just two points separates top and bottom in a tight Group E, with leaders Ghana meeting Guinea and Uganda playing Togo this week.
Cape Verde Islands can cement their place at the summit of Group F with a win over their closest challengers Mozambique and Zambia entertain Niger, while Group G sees top two Senegal and Tunisia clash while Egypt play Botswana.