By Harry Awurumibe, Editor Abuja Bureau
Still basking in the euphoria of the huge upset his team created on Thursday after a 1-0 away victory over Nigeria’s Super Eagles in Match Day 3 tie at Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos, Head Coach of Central African Republic (CAR), Raoul Savoy is optimistic that his team will beat their opponents again in the return leg on Sunday in Douala, Cameroon.
Forward Karl Namnganda’s 89th minute goal after outsmarting two Nigerian defenders, Leon Aderemi Balogun and William Troost-Ekong in the vital area, ensured CAR defeated Gernot Rohr’s men to the shock of football followers across Africa.
But French-born gaffer has said that more surprises await Nigeria when both nations clash again in Match Day 4 encounter at the Stade Japoma de Douala in Cameroon as his team nicknamed ‘Les Fauves’ (Wild Beasts) are poised for another shock.
Savoy who is new in African football hinted that the match which will start by 2pm Cameroon time on Sunday will see his boys come at their opponents like wounded beasts to get a favourable result which will put them in a good position to emerge Group C winners on the final day.
Speaking with sports reporters shortly after the match in Lagos on Thursday the CAR coach, had explained why his team defeated Nigeria 1-0 on the day, saying that they defeated Nigeria because his players didn’t allow the Super Eagles to play quick football.
According to him: “We put in a strategy that worked against Nigeria and I commend my players because they gave their best during the encounter.
“We stood by them (Super Eagles) and knew that if we cut them off and don’t allow them to be quick, then we have got a chance. It’s a very great result for us”.
Savoy who said he told his wife before coming to Nigeria for the match that he will be the happiest man if he gets a draw, is over the moon for the three points in the kitty.
Said he: “I’m very happy because we put in a strategy and it worked. And when you put in a strategy and have young players, because we have young players in our team, who listen and put their heart in, they can beat anyone.
“Nigeria is one of the best teams in Africa but sometimes in football, you don’t take the game seriously because you feel at the beginning you have already won. I feel the Eagles said ‘we are going to take the three points and focus on other things’.”
Savoy however disclosed that he will drum it into the ears of his players not to be complacent in the return leg, adding that: ” we are not going to allow the victory over Nigeria in Lagos to becloud our focus because our target is to top the group on the last day”.
Asked if the early afternoon (2pm) fixed for the match will affect his team’s performance negatively on Sunday, Savoy replied with emphatic no.
“Rather than be a disadvantage to us, we see it as a blessing because we are used to the weather condition in Douala since we adopted Cameroon as our home. Yes, we have acclimatized so the heat will be on Nigeria. We know that the entire Super Eagles squad are based overseas so we will cash in on the weather to over power them”, Savoy boasted.
Nigeria still lead Group C with six points just two points above CAR and Cape Verde’s Blue Sharks who also got 2-1 away win against Liberia in Monrovia last Thursday. Liberia is rock bottom with three points.
With all the four teams still in contention for the sole group ticket,
the Super Eagles cannot afford another slip-up in Douala on Sunday as any misadventure will put qualification from the group in peril, at least for the moment.
Should Nigeria fails to qualify for the next round nay Qatar 2022, soccer-crazy Nigerian citizens within and outside the country will call for the heads of everyone involved in managing the affairs of the Super Eagles.