By; AYO OJEDOKUN, Lagos
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) and the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) on Saturday morning formally received three–time champions, Nigeria to the 33rd edition of the Africa Cup of Nations taking place in the Republic of Cameroon from January 9 to February 6.
A formality, but nonetheless important part of a team’s programme on arrival at a major football championship, the Team Arrival Meeting covers several areas of a team’s preparedness and opens a window on what is expected of any delegation while still at the competition.
On Saturday, CAF’s General Coordinator for the Garoua Centre, Titus Kunamuene led the meeting which covered media, medical, marketing, integrity, team kits and matchday operations.
Nigeria’s Leader of Delegation, Alhaji Ibrahim Gusau expressed the contingent’s satisfaction with the reception accorded it at the airport on arrival Wednesday night, while commending the Confederation of African Football for the hospitality so far. He assured that the Nigeria team will display high level of discipline during the championship. Kunamuene expressed delight that the Super Eagles are happy with their accommodation and other logistics provided.
Team Administrator, Dayo Enebi Achor then presented relevant documents of players and officials for scrutiny by the CAF team.
Nigeria will take on seven –time champions Egypt, Sudan and debutants Guinea Bissau in the group phase of their 19th appaearance in the Africa Cup of Nations, with the Stade Roumdé Adjia in Garoua the venue for all their matches. In 18 previous appearances at the AFCON, Nigeria has made 15 podium appearances.
In a training game on Friday, Skipper Ahmed Musa and winger Samuel Chukwueze were on target as the Super Eagles rolled past Cotonsport Garoua FC of Cameroon 2-0.
On Saturday, Italy –based defender Tyrone Ebuehi joned up with the squad in Garoua, meaning only left back Jamilu Collins is still expected at the team’s Hotel Ribadou de Garoua. The Eagles file out against the Pharaohs, in what is potentially the pick of the group’s battles, at the Stade Roumdé Adjia as from 5pm Cameroon time on Tuesday.
Nigeria is led by Augustine Eguavoen, who was on-field captain when the Eagles won the title in Tunisia in 1994, and then coached the Eagles to third place in Egypt 12 years later. In 2004, he was assistant to Coach Christian Chukwu when the Eagles picked up the bronze medals in Tunisia.
Soft –spoken but tactically astute, Eguavoen is the only man to have coached Nigeria to win all three group phase matches at the AFCON – when they defeated Ghana, Zimbabwe and Senegal in Port Said at the 2006 finals in Egypt. His team also bundled out Cup holders Tunisia after a pulsating penalty shootout in the quarter finals.