2013 Afcon: Eagles can win trophy, says Uche Okechukwu

The former Nigeria defender from their 1994 winning squad says the country can triumph in South Africa next year

Former Nigeria international Uche Okechukwu has told Goal.com that he has absolute confidence in the Super Eagles to weather the storm in South Africa and eventually win the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.

The erstwhile Fenerbahce of Turkey defence stalwart offered useful tips to his former Eagles mate Stephen Keshi, who is handling the Nigerian side, and believed that if his advice is followed to the letter, the Eagles would definitely come back home with the 2013 Afcon trophy.

Okechukwu advocated for consistency in the way the team is being handled and offered that Keshi should concentrate on the players he has now to engender the needed blending and consistency in the team.

“I have seen Nigeria’s group and I can tell you honestly that there are no minnows in football anymore. The Super Eagles need to work harder than they have dome in the qualifying series. I sincerely believe that with the right assemblage of players I think we have the quality players that can take Nigeria far in the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations or even win the trophy,” said Okechukwu.

“Consistency is the key to having a strong team that can withstand any opposition in the [Afcon]. If the Super Eagles handlers can keep the same crop of players together for a longer time and with the right environment I believe we have the players that can win this Cup.

“As the Super Eagles are preparing for the 2013 tournament, the other countries are preparing too, maybe even better than we are doing. So through hard work and doing the right thing at the right time, Nigeria can win the trophy in South Africa ahead of other top teams in the continent.”

Okechukwu who was part of the last Nigerian team to win the African showpiece trophy 18 years ago in Tunisia counselled for a patient build up and careful planning in order to ensure the Super Eagles return to winning ways.

 “For Keshi to get a formidable team he needs time, he needs patience and consistency to build the team. I hear people talk a lot about the 1994 Super Eagles squad but they have forgotten that the coach then, Clemens Westerhof, had assembled the team together since 1990 and we played the ECOWAS Games and lots of competitions and matches before we grew to that point in 1994. So it takes time and consistency to build a solid team. So let’s give the coach a chance to work on the team now.

“I wouldn’t want a situation where the Coach would be axed if the results fail to come but I am very sure that with very good preparation for the tournament Nigeria can bring the Cup back to the country. Like I said, we have the materials that can deliver but we only need time to blend them together and for them to gel,” Okechukwu said.

Nigeria are drawn in Group C alongside defending champions Zambia, Ethiopia and Bukina Faso.