Former Nigeria striker Dele Olorundare says the Super Eagles will have to work very hard to guarantee their qualification for the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations.
According to Tuesday’s draw held in South Africa, the 2013 African champions were zoned in Group A alongside Guinea Bissau, Sierra Leone, and Sao Tome and Principle en route to picking a ticket to their 20th appearance at the tournament.
The Djurtus and the Leone Stars are no strangers to the Nigerians having met in recent outings. While the Super Eagles subdued Guinea Bissau 2-0 at the 2021 Afcon in Garoua, John Keister’s men tackled Gernot Rohr’s Eagles to qualify for Cameroon.
Nevertheless, the former Sunshine Stars goal machine warned the three-time African champions against complacency to avoid another international heartbreak.
“On paper, the draw seems like an easy one for Nigeria but the truth is that qualification will not come easy - we have to work hard for it,” Olorundare told GOAL.
“We have played Sierra Leone and Guinea Bissau in recent times. They know us so well and they will be coming to hurt us.
“Sao Tome and Principe are dark horses but this is football and we must watch out for them because they can be a surprise package.
“I am a Nigerian and I will be proud to see us play in Cote d’Ivoire 2023, but football is no longer about wishful thinking. Our administrators and players must show that we merit to be there.”
He also gave useful tips on what the country must do to secure early qualification to Cote d’Ivoire.
“First, we must take every game seriously and make sure we win our first game,” he continued.
“Nigeria looked content scoring two goals then go on to relax. That being said, we must convert every chance that comes our way. Doing this will send a big warning signal to other opponents.
“Let me point out here that Nigerians are still angry that the Super Eagles crashed out of the Round of 16 at Cameroon 2021 coupled with the fact that we will not be at the 2022 Fifa World Cup
“Securing an early ticket in Afcon 2023 will be a good way to appease all disappointed football enthusiasts globally.”
According to the Nigeria Football Federation, Nigeria will commence their qualifiers with a home fixture against Sierra Leone before heading to Sao Tome and Principe - who are eyeing a maiden appearance at Afcon.