2 February 2013

West Africa: Eagles, Elephants in Royal Showdown

West African heavyweights, Nigeria and Cote d'Ivoire will clash tomorrow in the headline game of the quarter finals of the ongoing 29th Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa. Both nations have met five times previously at the biannual tournament with honours evenly shared, two wins each respectively, and a draw.

However, the Ivorians won the most recent match-ups. The Didier Drogba inspired side were victorious in the semi finals of the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations held in Egypt courtesy of a lone goal scored by the former Chelsea hitman, and a 1-0 win in Sekondi-Takoradi in the group phase of the 2008 finals in Ghana. The second half solo effort goal by Solomon Kalou separated the two sides.

The Super Eagles on the other hand, triumphed on penalty shoot-out after 2-2 draw in a famous 1994 semi final showdown in Tunis and also piped their West African rivals 1-0 in a group phase of the 1990 edition in Algeria. The only draw between the two teams was in a group phase match in Lagos in 1980, with the Eagles went ahead to win their first ever African title.

At another level, Nigeria came out stronger in a quarter final clash of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Men's Football Tournament, beating the Ivorians 2-0. Nigerians will not also forget in hurry the ¬the 1994 FIFA World Cup qualifying race which the two team met in an infamous clash.

The Ivorians came from a goal down to defeat Nigeria 2-1 in Abidjan, but luck ran out on them in the reverse fixture, as they were turned back 4-0 in Lagos. The Super Eagles went ahead to flogg Algeria 4-1 in Lagos and held out for a 1-1 draw in Algiers to reach their first-ever FIFA World Cup finals.

All the above mentions have gone into history and the two teams are now different sides entirely. For assure, tomorrow's showdown between these two teams will definitely come with plenty of fireworks.

Super Eagles chief coach, Stephen Keshi has stated categorically that he is not scared of meeting Cote D'Ivoire in the quarter finals, stressing that: "Ninety minutes will decide the game."

"It is a different ball game. I respect the Ivoirens, but we will approach the game with a different mentality than what we produced against Ethiopia and other group opponents.

"I know you guys are worried about Cote d'Ivoire and I don't know why. The Ivorians have a good team and we have a good team too. It is going to be a game of eleven players on each side. Cote d'Ivoire is Cote d'Ivoire and Nigeria is Nigeria. So anything can happen when we meet, but I am sure we won't disappoint", he assured.

After Nigeria beat Ethiopia 2-0 and qualified for the quarter finals where they'll face Ivory Coast, former Arsenal defender, Emmanuel Eboue went hard on his timeline. He tweeted about everything from corruption in the Nigeria FA, to the fact that Nigeria should be ashamed that Chelsea midfielder, Mikel Obi is the nation's best player.

He declared Super Eagles as no match for the Elephants. "Congrat to Nigeria. Don't celebrate too much because we are coming for you. We are going to eat you like fufu," the first of his many tweets attacking the Super Eagles and Nigeria read.

In another attack on Nigeria, Eboue tweeted, "Sorry guys, point of correction. We are going to eat Nigeria like Super-fried-chickens." From then on, it has been an unending tweet tirade on not just the Eagles as a team but Nigeria in its entirety; a situation that has seen some twitter users arguing that the former Arsenal player was being impersonated.

"I see people saying I have pride by saying we would eat Nigeria like fried chickens. It's not pride guys, its hard work and passion for my country," another of his tweets read.

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