Nigeria host Niger in a friendly on Tuesday with new coach Sunday Oliseh hoping his side can show improvements following a disappointing performance in Africa Cup of Nations qualifying.
Oliseh was appointed as coach in July this year, but his presence did not have an inspiring effect on his players against Tanzania on Saturday, with the Super Eagles fortunate to claim a 0-0 draw away from home in qualifying for the AFCON finals in Gabon in 2017.
Despite that below-par performance, Oliseh was upbeat and is hopeful his team can use the display in Dar es Salaam as a learning experience.
“We came here with the objective of earning the three points, but that didn’t happen,” Oliseh said after the stalemate.
“It was my first match in charge of the team and I have learnt a few things which will definitely help us going forward.”
The draw with Tanzania was a dent to Nigeria’s hopes of automatic qualification for the AFCON after failing to reach this year’s edition of the tournament, particularly with seven-time champions Egypt providing strong competition in their group.
A friendly against inferior opposition in front of their home fans should provide Nigeria with the opportunity to build continuity and confidence under Oliseh heading into a busy period of fixtures.
Nigeria take on Burkina Faso in the African Nations Championship over two legs in October prior to a World Cup qualifying tie with Djibouti or Swaziland in November and home and away games with Egypt next March.
But Nigeria’s last meeting with their west African neighbours did not go exactly to plan. They were held to a 0-0 draw in 2012 and a similar result this time around would be cause for concern.
Niger have played in the AFCON finals twice in their history, doing so in back-to-back years in 2012 and 2013, only to be eliminated in the group stages on both occasions.
A meeting with one of the continent’s traditional powers will give Francois Zahoui’s men a strong test of where they stand going into their World Cup qualifying tie, which will see Niger pitted against Somalia.
However, after suffering a 2-0 loss to Burundi on Saturday, Niger’s hopes of keeping Oliseh winless appear slim at best.
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