By Hawa Wesseh
Even though Nigeria boasts of international players that are playing in high-profile European leagues, Liberia star player Sekou Oliseh Jabateh, who plays professionally for CSKA Moscow, says the pedigree of the Super Eagles players is nothing to worry about, because pressure will be on Nigeria when the Super Eagles and Lone Star meet in Calabar this weekend.
Jabateh warned the Nigerians before the first leg match in Monrovia that the Eagles would see a lot of fireworks, and that the Lone Stars were ready for the showdown on game day. Jabateh lived up to his words by scoring a tantalizing 66 min equalizer that finally tied the game to 2-2 at the Monrovia Sports Stadium in Painesville, after Tonia Tisdell scored an early 4min goal.
The Lone Star striker who played in Nigeria for FC Ebedei Ijebu-Ode, Ogun State before going on to Europe said Nigerian fans were impatient, and his team was looking to frustrating the Eagles. “I played in Nigeria for a very long time and that has given me the opportunity to understand their football culture. Nigeria fans are impatient and we would get your boys frustrated which would make it easier for us to pick a win in Calabar.
The gifted Liberian striker said the Lone Stars were itching for what has been billed “the Calabar clash,” and that Liberia will take the game to the opponent when the two teams meet in Cross River State.
Nigerian failed to qualify for the last edition despite having top world players; prompting the sacking of Sampson Siasia, who football pundits say was rebuilding the Super Eagles sturdily, and was well on track with this program when he lost the 2011 Afcons ticket to the Sylli Nationale of Guinea.
Ex-Liberian captain Anthony Laffor also believes Liberia will stun the Super Eagles in Calabar, and also said: “You don’t get the chance to face such an opposition all the time. Nigeria is our big brother on the continent but it will be nice to make it to South Africa 2013 at their expense. It’s been long since we played at the African Cup of Nations and we believe we have a chance this time around,” he said. Laffor plays for the South African club Mamelodi Sundowns.”
Liberian has been improving steadily and has jumped 13 place on the Fifa world ranking, and to 98 place having drawn with Nigeria 2-2, routed Malawi 1-0 and defeated the Ghana Black Stars 2-0 in Monrovia recently.
Krangar has utilized his opportunities and have thanked Coach Kaetu Smith for having faith in him. Jabateh believes the pressure is on the Nigerians and added, “We are coming to Calabar to enjoy ourselves as we aware that enormous pressure would be on the Eagles to deliver.”
Liberia beat Nigeria at home in Monrovia in 2001, and almost qualify at their expense for the 2002 Japan – South Korea World Cup when Christopher Wreh scored at the Monrovia sport complex to beat the Eagles 2-1. The CSKA Moscow playmaker whom the Nigerian media referred to as the ‘danger man’ warned “that Liberia would get scoring chances in the game, and I’m sure we are going to convert them.”
There has been talk in the Nigerian media that “There was nothing to fear about Liberia and no need to lose sleep over Liberia” but Jabateh said “it would be at the Eagles’ peril should they underrate us.
Liberia meanwhile has informed the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) that the team would be landing in Calabar with a 125- man delegation for a tie.