‘Mambas’ Aim For Historical Quarter-Final Slot

The situation facing Mozambique coach Mart Nooij is simple. A win against Nigeria will see them qualify – bar a shock result for Benin against Egypt – whilst a draw or defeat will send them home. But can the ‘Mambas’ pull off one of the victories of the tournament against the ‘Super Eagles’?

Why not? Shaibu Amodu is under severe pressure to save his job, and Nigeria lack the youthful exuberance that most of the African sides have, with the majority of their squad ‘old campaigners’. However, this experience has proved invaluable in the past, following three consecutive third place finishes in 2002, 2004, and 2006. Nigeria have also won the prestigious event twice before, with victories over Algeria and Zambia. It is apparent that they are a side to be reckoned with, comprising of amazing pace, strength, and skill on the ball. Amodu needs a win to move into the quarter-finals, and will be looking to get off to a good start against the ‘Mambas’.

Shaibu Amodu is facing huge pressure to keep his position as Nigeria manager

However, Nooij knows himself that a win should be good enough to progress through the group stage. After a stunning fightback to earn a 2-2 draw with Benin in their opening encounter, Mozambique were outclassed by the athleticism and strength of the reigning champions Egypt. Amodu will look to replicate Egypts’ free-flowing moves which eventually saw them through 2-0, although if the ‘Mambas’ can soak up Nigeria’s pressure and hit them on the counter attack then they could prove to be a huge stumbling block in the ‘Super Eagles’ quest for success.

Mozambique captain Tico Tico will be looking to see his nation through to the quarter-finals for the first time in their history

The two sides faced each other in qualifying, too, with Mozambique giving Nigeria severe headaches with their experienced line-up, which should include stars such as Tico Tico and Domingues. A battling 0-0 draw was followed up with a narrow 1-0 loss, although the ‘Mambas’ should take some heart from these promising results. Shaibu Amodu is expected to stick with the side that scraped past Benin on Saturday, with the inclusion of Danny Shittu and Peter Odewingie. Victor Obinna – Nigeria’s lightning forward – may feature from the bench, as could Obafemi Martins who has surprisingly not featured thus far. Despite their courage and resiliency, Nooij is optimistic about Mozambique’s chances of success. He told goal.com ‘We are not expected to win tomorrow. There is no pressure on us, so we can just go out there and enjoy ourselves.’

Victor Obinna – Nigeria’s ‘match winner’

As much as I would like to see the underdogs prevail, I think Nigeria will be too strong in attack and show their higher fitness levels in the latter stages. However, an early ‘Mambas’ goal could change everything…

Prediction: Mozambique 1-3 Nigeria

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