Nigeria defender, Efe Ambrose, says the only result expected from the Super Eagles when they play the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon in their Round of 16 clash on Saturday (today) at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations in Alexandria is a win.
Both teams finished second in their groups.
The 2013 AFCON winner insists victory is all that matters at this stage of the competition.
“The most important thing is winning, it is the second round and there is no second chance if you lose, that would be the end and that’s what would be on my mind as a player. Winning that game must be the ultimate experience,” the former Derby County man said.
Nigeria’s opponents, Cameroon, won the last edition of the competition and Ambrose admits it will be a difficult game on the pitch and in the technical department.
“I know it’s not going to be an easy game because the Cameroonians have a good record against us and they play hard any time they see us.
“They also have a very good coaching crew, with Clarence Seedorf as their head coach bringing lots of changes, it’s going to be a different ball game to the one we played during the World Cup qualifiers.
“That said, I’m sure the Eagles are up to the task and have a chance to make it through to the next round, though it’s not going to be an easy game.
“With football, most times you have to earn what you desire and that must be earned on the pitch in 90 minutes. I’ve been a part of them and I know what they might be thinking, so I don’t have a doubt that they can pull it off.”
“Most fans in Nigeria have lost a bit of faith in the boys after the Eagles’ below-par performance despite the huge expectations back home.
“The same thing happened in 2013; when things don’t go your way the fans make comments, but the most important thing is for the players to stay focused, stay together to achieve their goal.
“It’s just a wake-up call, you need this kind of game to put you back on your feet.”
The former Celtic defender charged the players to take this game as the most important game of the competition.
“This is a second-round game. And they know what is at stake, there are no second chances, if they really want to achieve it they can with their coach and the players who are young and hungry to win an AFCON trophy. Cameroon wants to beat us too but to me, I call us the Brazil of African football. It is always a difficult task playing against us too.”
With the team suffering series of injuries to key players, Ambrose said that should not be an excuse to lose believing that all the players were picked based on merit.
He said, “The coach picked the best players he feels can help him win the tournament, so anyone there merits his inclusion, there is nothing to be scared about.
“I believe any player that is called upon must be ready to play his part for the country and give a good account of himself and also know that he is representing over 200 million Nigerians. It’s a huge task.
“In tournaments, injuries are always a big part, so you should be prepared when called upon. The bench must be as good as those playing. In a tournament, you need your bench if you want to win. I believe the coach has the players that can give him victory even if they are coming from the bench.
“In a tournament, there is no first 11, they are a team of 23. So with Mikel (Obi) and co not playing, the rest of the players need to play for the team and also support each other on-and-off the pitch and conquer the likes of Cameroon and the rest so they can win the trophy.”
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