Surely, eliminating Zambia Saturday and qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia is Nigeria’s biggest hope. Several Nigerian players have made promises that Nigeria will be Russia in the next year but one player, in particular, embodies the ability to make such promises come true.
That player is Victor Moses who has never played for a losing Nigerian team in a home game. Sure, records may remind us that Nigeria has never eliminated Zambia in a qualifier (for the World Cup or the AFCON). That record may be a surprise to many but it is perhaps a reminder that Nigeria’s biggest bogey teams may not be the ones that routinely go to World Cups but are the likes of Zambia. But will that record prevail or will Moses?
One thing for sure is that the poor qualifying record against Zambia cannot be eternal. It is meant to be broken and on Saturday Nigeria is primed to extinguish that hideous record in qualifiers (World Cup or Nations Cup).
With Moses available Saturday, and in his usual No. 11 shirt, the Nigerian key man should play a decisive role. Moses has become the game changer, the boss, the talisman, and whatever else you want to call him. Zambia cannot control him and it is in Moses that Nigeria’s Messiah arises and he will lead the team to the promised World Cup of 2018. But what signs, on Saturday, point to a Messianic act?
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Here are the signs that should look for if the dream is for Nigeria to head towards Russia on Saturday:
- 1. Moses starts in his No. 11 shirt. No reported injuries. No reported fights with the NFF officials.
- 2. Moses assists or scores the opening goal in the opening half. It is the sign Zambia’s end is near, the beginning of a big win.
- 3. Moses refuses to be burdened by tiredness and he tracks back repeatedly to help squelch Zambian attacks.
- 4. That Coach Gernot Rohr keeps Victor Moses in the game and does not substitute him until Nigeria leads and it is late in the game.
- 5. Skipper Mikel Obi constantly distributes the ball, effortlessly to his wide forwards, particularly Moses. The forwards create endless opportunities for goals.
Of course, the game of football, especially at the heights of a World Cup qualifier, is a team sport. However, there are still individuals who drive team effort.
For Nigeria, that individual is indeed Victor Moses and he will be front and center Saturday as Nigeria seeks to eliminate Zambia for the first time in a qualifier. Make no mistake about it.