Africa Cup of Nations champions Nigeria travel to Ethiopia in confident mood ahead of their FIFA World Cup qualifying play-off first leg.
Stephen Keshi’s side went unbeaten in the group stage of qualifying, topping Group F by five points after winning three and drawing three of their six games, conceding just three goals in the process.
Defender Solomon Kwambe believes the morale-boosting triumph in February’s Cup of Nations will give his side the edge as they look to return victorious from Sunday’s visit to Addis Ababa.
“We are the African champions,” he said.
“And we must demonstrate the stuff that made us African kings in whatever and wherever we see ourselves, we’ll surely triumph against the Ethiopians.
“Victory is written on everybody’s faces, and all the players are smiling, indicating that fortune will smile at us on Sunday.
“The mood in the camp and among the players is charged with anticipation of resounding victory against Ethiopia.”
Qualification would mean a fifth tournament appearance for Nigeria, while for Ethiopia, the finals in Brazil would represent a journey into unchartered territory.
Coach Sewnet Bishaw will be without forward Getaneh Kebede, missing with an ankle injury, but he is confident the rest of his squad will be able to cope with his absence.
“We have lost a good player but as a team we have to move on,” he said.
“I got the information he could not make it as the nagging injury failed to heal in time.
“We wish him a quick recovery and I will look for an alternative as we have plenty in the squad who are capable.”
Bishaw is likely to look to Saladin Said Ahmed to spearhead the attack in Kebede’s absence after Ahmed, like Kebede, scored four of Ethiopia’s eight goals in qualifying from Group A.
They won four of their six matches, surviving a late scare in the final game, coming from behind to beat Central African Republic 2-1 when defeat would have seen them overtaken at the top of the group by South Africa.
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