No matter how superior an opponent in football is, that superiority has to be proven over 90 minutes and beyond. Cote D’Ivoire were superior to Zambia in last year’s Africa Cup of Nations final but still lost in the lottery that is penalty kicks.
That is why we follow and love football, anything can happen – Chelsea can win the Champions League without playing well offensively, Greece can win the Euro Cup by scoring an average of one goal a game and Bradford can reach the final of the Capital One Cup…there are so many occasions when football has bucked the trend.
Overwhelmingly the Elephants are superior to the Eagles but when has that really counted in the scheme of things in football and in life. If Kolo Toure scores an own goal on Sunday, the score will read Nigeria 1-0 Cote d’Ivoire at the end of 90 minutes or Gervinho can score in the second minute of the game and the CIV beat Nigeria by 4-0; anything is possible.
So you can never be too sure of the outcome of a football match by analysing the finer points on paper. Last Wednesday, Chelsea were leading Reading 2-0 with three minutes on the clock but Reading scored two goals in six minutes to take an unlikely point. If it were a Cup competition, Reading could also have gone on to win the match on penalties.
Nigerians and the Eagles cannot afford to have given up before the referee blows to start the match and to end it. “It’s funny that people have written off this Nigerian team,” Sewnet Bishaw said in an interview with Complete Sports.
“But these people will be surprised by how good the Nigerians are. They are very strong tactically and technically and I can see them springing a surprise against Cote d’Ivoire," Bishaw added.
And there is so much that the Eagles have achieved in the last 13 months – least of it being that they have not lost any match, which should be a fact that strengthens the faint-hearted that CIV can beat us but it will not be easy. Who thought that Cape Verde would get to the quarter finals of the Nations Cup in their first appearance?
Therein lies the romance and lure of football, the impossible can just become possible in 90 minutes. Hold on!