Friday Sep 04, 2015. 13:04
Sunday Oliseh will take his first big step as Nigeria coach against home team Tanzania Saturday, knowing this game could well define his time as the Super Eagles handler.
The former Nigeria skipper replaced Stephen Keshi in July amid huge expectations he will steer the three-time African champions into a new era of exploits and restore waning public confidence in the team after they failed to qualify for this year’s AFCON.
The 40-year-old Oliseh has been outspoken as a television pundit, talking smoothly about the Nigerian game and how it could be best improved.
He now has the chance to put his words into action.
He said he expects a few surprises from the Taifa Stars now under a new caretaker coach.
"We have watched the video of Tanzania. They are a very aggressive team," said the former Juventus and Borussia Dortmund midfielder.
"We might get some surprises during the game and we expect anything from the side going by what we have seen in the tapes because like us, they have a new coach."
Oliseh’s Eagles debut has not been made easier with the late withdrawal of skipper and goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama, whose mother has passed away.
Wolves of England shot stopper Carl Ikeme, 29, will now make his debut in Tanzania and CSKA Moscow star Ahmed Musa will lead out the Eagles.
Italy-based Joel Obi has pulled out of this tie as he has yet to regain full match fitness after a muscle injury.
Germany-based rightback Leon Balogun is nursing an ankle injury and his place may be taken by Warri Wolves ace Solomon Kwambe.
Al Ain striker Emmanuel Emenike said the Eagles are primed to qualify for the 2017 AFCON in Gabon.
"We all know why we are here, it is the responsibility of everybody to show good and positive attitude for the success of the team,” he charged.
“There are no easy games for Eagles in Africa again, those smaller countries always want to prove difficult and surprise Nigeria, but we must have it at the back of our mind that we are facing a tough task.
"The game in Tanzania is a must-win, it’s not actually about me, but the Super Eagles. As a striker, I wish to score for the team with good passes from my team mates."
Skipper Ahmed Musa said victory is not negotiable.
"We all know why we are here. We want to be at AFCON 2017 and we know every game is important, the only business we have in Tanzania is to go and win,” he said.
“We are not looking down on them. We are fully ready to win and make Nigerians happy."
The core of the Tanzania team is from the country’s millionaire club Azam, who are financed by the country’s richest man.
They will be banking on their three overseas-based strikers – TP Mazembe pair of Thomas Ulimwengu and Mbwana Samata as well as South Africa-based Mrisho Ngassa – to get them the goals against the star-studded Nigerians.
They have shown they mean business after they trained for a week in Turkey, where they lost 2-1 to Libya in a test game.
In June, Nigeria began their qualifying campaign with a 2-0 home win over Chad, while Tanzania lost 3-0 in Egypt.
Both nations have met six times with Nigeria winning four times and two draws.
The first game between Nigeria and Tanzania was on July 6, 1972, a friendly match in Dar es Salaam which ended goalless.
The second time was during the All Africa Games on January 12, 1973, with Nigeria winning 2-1.
In the 1980 AFCON hosted by Nigeria, Eagles won 3-1 on March 8, 1980. Nigeria’s goals were scored by Muda Lawal, Ifeanyi Onyedika and Segun Odegbami.
Nigeria then drew 1-1 with Tanzania in Lagos on December 6, 1980, in a World Cup qualifier. Muda Lawal scored for the Eagles.
Eagles went on to win the return leg in Dar es Salaam 2-0.
The last meeting of both teams was on September 11, 2002, when the Eagles won 2-0.