This Day (Lagos)

Nigeria: Eagles Not Ready for Afcon Yet, Says Akanni

Former Nigerian midfielder, Waidi Akanni is worried Super Eagles are experimenting less than 16 days to the kick off of the 2013Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in South Africa.

The Eagles, who start their AFCON campaign on January 21 against West African opposition, Burkina Faso in Nelspruit, are yet to come up with their 23-man squad required for the biennial football showpiece.

Akanni said the fact that Nigeria is yet to name her 23-man final list cast serious doubt on the team's readiness for the 2013 AFCON in South Africa.

"Compared with other countries coming to the Nations Cup who have selected their 23-man squad, it shows that we're not ready for the AFCON challenge yet.

"We're still parading the 32-man list and not all the players have shown up. Some are being waited for and the fact that the coach is waiting to see all the players before naming his final list is cause for worry.

"First, seeing a player and the player being certified fit for the challenge is another thing and the time for thorough examination appears not to be there.

"I think others look way ahead prepared than us," observed the former Flash Flamingoes' star Wednesday.

Akanni expressed doubt about the capability of the Stephen Keshi's team grabbing their third title in South Africa.

"Going by the records we posted in the last few years and the fact that we were absent in the last edition, our chance of winning the third title is very slim. I think the presence of Cup holders, Zambia, Ghana, Cote d'Ivoire, South Africa, among others, make it even tougher," he said.

The former Flying Eagles' midfielder said title holders, Zambia, will pose the toughest challenge for the Eagles in Group C.

"We have the Cup holders, Zambia as the number one side to worry about that's not taking anything away from Burkina Faso and Ethiopia. Of course, there is no minnows in football anymore.

"We must find a way to get past Zambia, our toughest match will come from them.

"However, I pray we survive the group hurdle, come top and keep our original venue for the second round matches. It will be an advantage," he said.

Akanni is still worried about the Eagles' backline insisting that their performance will be decided by the defenders.

"People have expressed worries at our defence, it's a genuine worry and it will be decisive on how far we'll go in South Africa.

"I believe Keshi is doing something in that area and will be able to come up with a perfect blend of home and foreign players that will give stability to the team as well as the midfield and attack," said the former boss of the Lagos State Football Association.

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