WHY NIGERIA SHOULD WORRY ABOUT ETHIOPIA - OKALA
Ex-international and one-time Africa's best goalkeeper, Emmanuel Okala (MON), has advanced reasons Nigerians must not treat this weekend's Africa Nations Cup qualifying match against Ethiopia with kids' gloves.
In a recent interview with Daily Sunsports in Enugu, the former Enugu Rangers International safest hands, said that the Super Eagles would find the East Africans, who are coming from a high altitude, too strong to surmount, even as he predicted that the reverse fixture in Ethiopia would be more difficult for Nigeria.
'We have cause to worry about the Nations Cup qualifying match against Ethiopia, because every country's team is improving everyday. So, we should expect strong opposition from Ethiopia,' Okala stated.
'Don't forget that they are coming from a high altitude, which in common language and understanding means that they will not wear out easily.
They obviously would be stronger than our players and by the time we go to them for the return leg, it would be very difficult for us to play in Ethiopia except we go there on time and get acclimatised with the weather.'
Okala suggested that foreign-based players should be blended with the players in the domestic league to raise a formidable squad that can tame the Ethiopian side.
'The coaches should blend the foreign-based players with the ones in the domestic league for the squad that will play against Ethiopia. We cannot depend entirely on foreign-based players.
'The advantage foreign-based players have over the ones on the domestic scene is that they have better training facilities to toy with abroad. There should be some home-based players in the team, though I suggest that the foreign-based ones should be more in number for the match against Ethiopia on Sunday. Let's begin to introduce our home-based players gradually into big matches, it will do us a world of good in future,' he said.
Okala gave kudos to all the goalkeepers in the current Eagles' camp. He, however, voted Vincent Enyeama as the country's best at the moment.
'All the goalkeepers in the current Super Eagles are doing well, but Vincent Enyeama remains Nigeria's best keeper for now. I'm happy that he won the Best Player of the Year Award at the recent AIT Awards. It's a clear testimony that he's the best in the country at the moment.
'Of course, the award will encourage other goalkeepers to work harder in order to be counted one day,' he reasoned.