Former Super Eagles' defender, Chidi Nwanu has faulted the decision of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to airlift the country's senior national team to Ethiopia 24 hours ahead of the first leg of the 2014 FIFA World Cup play-off against the Walya Antelopes scheduled for Sunday at 2pm (Nigeria Time).
The Eagles will battle the high altitude and a bumpy pitch in Addis Ababa and to reduce the effect on the team, the NFF stated that the players would hit the East African nation on Saturday a day before the all-important qualifier billed for Sunday.
The Football House had arranged for the Eagles to train at Abuja for about four days before the team would storm Ethiopia for the game.
In a chat with Goal from Belgium, Nwanu expressed his reservations about the travel plans of the NFF for the Eagles and said that the team might struggle to cope with the weather condition in Addis Ababa.
He stressed that the best option would have been for the NFF to arrange for the players to get to the match venue at least a few days before the clash so as to properly acclimatise.
"I still don't understand the reason why the team will be leaving for Ethiopia 24 hours to a crucial match such as this World Cup qualifier.
“The best option for the Eagles would have been to arrive Addis Ababa few days to the game so as to get used to the weather and other unpalatable conditions.
"It is not a good decision by the NFF to have the players in Ethiopia on Saturday when the game is fixed for Sunday.
“When will they have a feel of the turf and what impact will the weather have on them,” the defender who graced the 1994 World Cup asked.
“Shabby programme and lack of adequate preparation will be of no good to Nigeria. We need to do more to get the desired result. When there is no labour, there is no sweet,” he added.
The former Beveren and Anderlecht's defender however affirmed that the Eagles should be able to hold their own and get a decent result in Addis Ababa before finishing up the job at home during the second leg.
He encouraged the Eagles' players to be focused and play the game of their lives in Addis Ababa so as to brighten their World Cup qualification chances.
"I however know that Nigeria's players always rise up to the occasion when least expected. I am tipping the Eagles to get a good result in Addis Ababa and then wrap up the proceedings when the Ethiopians visit us in Nigeria.
"I want to tell them to stick together and they should close their eyes and play their best. They should let the ball do the running and ensure that they conserve their energies for the latter part of the encounter," Nwanu concluded.Nwanu, who hails from Aboh Mbaise, Imo State retired from football in 1998 with RKC Waalwijk in Holland and he won 20 caps for Nigeria. He was part of the squads for the 1994 FIFA World Cup and the 1988 Summer Olympics and is now a pastor in Antwerp, Belgium.