Vanguard (Lagos)

29 October 2012

Nigeria: Forget Chipolopolo - Kalu

Photo: Aliyu Adekunle
The Super Eagles of Nigeria in a match against Namibia in Calaba

Bring on the Chipolopolo, defending champions are easy prey,Eagles must pick a medal in South Africa.Former Abia state governor Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu believes the Nations Cup Draw is a good deal.

He said,"Eagles have a way round defending champions.From Zaire in 1976,Ghana in 1984,Cote D'Ivoire in 1994,Cameroun in 2004 to Tunisia in 2006,Nigeria beat all Cup holders.The only time that record was dented was at Angola 2010,by Egypt.

Playing defending champions Zambia should not scare anybody.And records show that anytime the Super Eagles confronted Cup holders,they returned with a medal."

Kalu described Zambia as a good meal for Nigeria."For 22 years now,Eagles have had them for lunch at the Nations Cup.They lost at Algeria'90,fell at Tunisia '94 when they made a Fairy tale grand-finale appearance, and lost again at Angola 2010."

The former governor blamed the Zambians for their plight."Zambia drew Eagles wrath when their 5-1 victory in 1973 not only booted Nigeria out of the Egypt '74 qualifiers,Gen.Yakubu Gowon had to disband the team,August 2 1973.Coach Joe Erico could tell this story better.

In 1982,Nigeria travelled to Libya as defending Champions.In their all important final group match,Zambia disgraced us.After conceding two goals,goalie Peter Fregene just kicked the ball into his own net to complete the shame at 3-0.

The same Zambia stopped Nigeria from playing at Egypt '86.That was Patrick Ekeji's last time as Eagles coach and Muda Lawal's sad farewell."

According to Kalu,"the South Africa 2012 group reminds me of Ghana'78.Nigeria,Zambia and Burkina Faso[then Upper Volta] were in the same group.Eagles defeated the Burkinabes 4-2,and drew 0-0 with Zambia.Also, it takes me back to Libya '82 where they played Ethiopia and Zambia in same group.That was Stephen Keshi's first Nations Cup.He got a brace in the 3-0 demolition of Ethiopia."

Kalu wished the Eagles well,urging them to prove they were no more on Ground Zero in the eyes of Nigerians.

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