Nigeria vice-captain William Troost-Ekong has his sights firmly on Nigeria’s next game against Angola in the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2024).
The Super Eagles came through a tough Round of 16 tie with Cameroon, defeating the Indomitable Lions 2-0 to book a date with the Palancas Negras on Friday.
A lot of Nigerians feel that Angola won’t be a difficult team to beat, like Ivory Coast and Cameroon, whom Nigeria defeated comfortably, but Troost Ekong is adamant the quarter-finals will be more difficult than what they faced before.
The PAOK Salonika defender revealed via the Nigeria Football Federation that the Angola game will probably be the toughest one yet.
Super Eagles relishing Angola clash
Still, he and his Super Eagles teammates will be ready for the Angola game.
“We can no longer expect any easy games. In truth, there have not been easy games here,” Troost Ekong said, who scored a goal against Ivory Coast.
“We have played Equatorial Guinea, Cote d’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, and Cameroon, and none have turned out to be a picnic.”
“From the quarter-finals, it will be a lot tougher because all the teams will believe they are good enough for the trophy.
“We are discussing among ourselves what we have to do. There is no resting on our oars.
“We saw Guinea eliminate Equatorial Guinea, which emerged as the best team in our group in the group phase. Football is like that.
“We must be alert for the entire period and do our best to convert the chances that we create.”
Angola a bogey team for Super Eagles?
Angola have posed problems for Nigeria in the past, and the Eagles will hope that history does not repeat itself.
Angola thwarted Nigeria's advancement to the final round of the qualification series for the 1990 FIFA World Cup finals in Italy.
However, the return leg in Nigeria, which the Eagles won 1-0, was marred by tragedy as playmaker Samuel Okwaraji collapsed and died 13 minutes from the end on August 12, 1989.
A stampede ensued after the game, resulting in the loss of several other football fans' lives. The first leg in Luanda had ended in a 2-2 draw.
Angola also gained notoriety for preventing Nigeria from reaching the 2006 FIFA World Cup finals.
The Eagles, after a 0-1 loss in Luanda, managed a 1-1 draw with the Negras at a sunny Sani Abacha Stadium in June 2005.
Nantes winger Moses Simon isn’t unaware of the pains Angola has inflicted on Nigeria, as he also shared Ekong’s sentiments.
“It is going to be a difficult game, like the ones against Cote d’Ivoire and Cameroon, and even Equatorial Guinea. We must be at our best and focus on the prize,” he said.
Nigeria will face Angola in the Round of 16 on Friday at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium for a spot in the semi-finals.
Angola defeated Namibia 3-0 to get to the quarter-finals, while Nigeria saw off Cameroon 2-0 to book a date with the Palancas Negras.