After their failure to progress to the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, Nigeria are determined to avoid the same road to disappointment when they start their 2017 qualifying campaign against Chad on Saturday.
This will be coach Stephen Keshi’s first competitive game in charge of Nigeria since his reappointment in April and his side will be looking to put recent international friendly setbacks behind them after a return of no wins in three.
Nigeria will be without John Obi Mikel and Emmanuel Emenike as Keshi has opted to look to the future with several youngsters included in the squad.
Defender William Troost-Ekong and Estoril midfielder Anderson Esiti are among those in line to make their debuts.
Midfielder John Ogu hopes lessons have been learnt from losing their opening game of the 2015 qualifying campaign 3-2 against Congo, a result Nigeria never recovered from.
“I don’t want to dwell in the past, but it has to be used to look at the future,” Ogu said.
“We have to start the qualifiers with a strong statement against Chad. We don’t have a choice, we have to make Nigerians happy again.”
Joining Nigeria and Chad in qualifying Group G are Egypt and Tanzania, but Ogu wants to concentrate purely on his own side.
“Yes, I’m aware of the teams but I won’t bother with that yet,” he said.
“We are focused on the Chad game and we will take one game after the other.
“All the teams in the group will be tough. We will treat all games the same way. Our main focus now is to handle Chad and then move on to the next one.
“The boys are ready for the game. Camp has been good and wonderful and we are raring to go.”
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