AFCON preparation starts now, says Ahmed Musa

AFCON preparation starts now, says Ahmed Musa

Nigeria acting captain Ahmed Musa says his team will begin plans for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) with Tuesday’s international friendly match against the Cranes of Uganda in Asaba.

Musa has been the captain of a very youthful Nigerian side which have been impeccable since returning from the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia in the absence of John Mikel Obi. They completed a remarkable turnaround with three victories in a row before sealing qualification with a draw against South Africa on Saturday.

Speaking at the game’s pre-match press conference, Musa was unequivocal in what will be their plan for the game.

“We already qualified for the AFCON for the first time after two editions. I think we will start our preparation from tomorrow because we are not taking the game like a friendly game.

“It is important for me because the last time we played a game against them in Uyo, we lost 1-0. I know they are a very good team so we will start our preparations from tomorrow,” says the Al Nassr of Saudi Arabia striker.

Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr corroborated his captain’s comment, stressing that the non-availability of sufficient international windows before next year’s tournament means his team have no time to waste in preparing for the African mundial.

“He (Musa) listened already well because we said in the meeting this morning that our preparation is starting now. We only have one FIFA window in March and I have to give my list in April/May. First list in May, thirty-five (players) and then the final twenty-three.

“So, I want to see the players who I didn’t see so much. They have the opportunity to start this preparation and the match tomorrow is the first preparation match for the AFCON,” added Rohr.

Louis Houngnande from Benin Republic will serve as the centre referee, to be assisted by compatriots Razack Bello (assistant referee 1) and Eric Ayimavo (assistant referee 2). Nigeria’s Shaibu Abdullahi will be reserve referee.

Fisayo Dairo reporting from Asaba

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