Former Nigeria defender Abiodun Obafemi has warned the Super Eagles against underrating “formidable” Ghana when the two sides face off in their 2022 World Cup play-offs later this month.
The Super Eagles are scheduled to meet the Black Stars in a two-legged affair, the first leg set for March 25 in Accra at Cape Coast Stadium and the return leg four days later at Moshhod Abiola National Stadium in Abuja.
Nigeria and Ghana will come into the qualifier after a disastrous campaign at the 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations held in Cameroon between January and February. While the Super Eagles’ journey ended in the Round of 16 after losing 1-0 against Tunisia, the Black Stars failed to get past the group stage.
Obafemi, who was part of Nigeria’s winning team at the 1996 Olympics, has cautioned the Super Eagles against using the Black Stars’ display at the African competition to determine the fate of the two matches.
“We shouldn’t take the performance of the Black Stars for granted, it will be a mistake to say they didn’t perform very well at the last Afcon and want to use that to determine the forthcoming games,” Obafemi said as quoted by The PUNCH.
“Honestly, Ghana will always be Ghana when it comes to playing Nigeria. They have always been formidable opponents and the rivalry is always high. What I will suggest the Eagles do is not to feel too much pressure but must know that this is a game that they must take seriously.”
Obafemi, who played most of his career in Germany, has also cautioned coach Augustine Eguavoen against using the Black Stars battle to experiment with the players in his squad.
“Also, Augustine [Eguavoen] must ensure he uses the players that are doing very well and fit because this is not the time to experiment or be sentimental,” Obafemi continued.
“The game against Ghana is not the time to help any player or make a statement and if he wants to help a player he can advise and tell them to be a force to be reckoned with and not gamble with the national team.”
The last time Ghana came up against Nigeria was in a friendly at Vicarage Road in October 2011, with the game ending in a 0-0 draw.