The New Times (Kigali)

2 February 2013

Nigeria/Cote d'Ivoire: Nigeria Need Belief, Not Money, to Beat Ivory Coast

It's every player's dream to play for his country but to hear that the same players need to be given extra incentives to be able to perform to their best is ridiculous, to say the least.

A player getting allowances plus additional benefits for their service to their countries is one thing and it's acceptable as a token of appreciation, but to need to be given an extra motivation to win an important match makes little sense.

The whole idea would make sense if players of smaller teams are given extra motivation to beat bigger teams, but to say that Nigerian players need to be given an extra bonus on top of what they're already entitled to in order to beat Ivory Coast beggars belief.

The Nigeria Football Federation has promised bonuses of up to $15 000 (about Rwf10m) for each player if they defeat the continent's number one team to reach the last four.

The Elephants, led by their veteran talismanic captain Didier Drogba, are the firm favourites to win the competition but they must first overcome the Super Eagles today. Going into the clash, its advantage Ivory Coast, who defeated Nigeria in the 2006 and 2008 editions, but Nigeria has not just potential but everything required to overturn the advantage in their favour.

Whereas Ivory Coast qualified (along with Ghana) with the most number of points (seven) by any team in the last eight, Nigeria advanced second in their group with five points, same as leaders Burkina Faso, who had a better goal difference (4-2).

Nigeria has struggled for goals and their defence looks suspect when under pressure but you can only rule out their chances of beating Ivory Coast at your peril.

The Ivorians go into the match as favourites, which puts them under more pressure to win than their opponents, who see themselves as deserving contenders for the title. Almost the entire Super Eagles team are professionals, who earn millions a year at their clubs and it's unfortunate that they must be given more money before they can stand up and be counted as one of Africa's powerhouse.

With or without extra bonus, the Super Eagles are good enough to beat any team in the competition but only if they put their heads down and concentrate on the task at hand.

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