Former Super Eagles striker, Daniel Amokachi (The Bull) has issued a strong warning that playing an international friendly against Brazil next month in Singapore could cause distraction for the Nigerian national team from their opening match of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers.
With the Eagles set to play Benin Republic at the start of November, Amokachi is of a view that it would have been better for Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to arrange build-up matches with African teams, rather than take up the October 13 fixture against Brazil.
Although the former Club Brugge of Belgium, Besiktas of Turkey and Everton of England all-action attacker admitted that playing Brazil adds prestige and profile to Nigeria’s football image, ‘Amo’ is of a view that the game will not offer the Eagles much in terms of conditioning, tactics building and acclimatizing ahead of the AFCON 2021 series, in which they will also play Lesotho few days after the opening tussle with West Coast neighbours, Benin Republic.
Incidentally, the player-turned-coach, who scored 13 goals in 44 appearances for the Eagles, got one of the goals that helped Nigeria get victory over Brazil at the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta, USA, when his effort helped seal a semi-finals’ win, but he insists playing The Samba Boys should not be about pride alone, but getting something useful from the game in terms of a build-up.
He argued further that the array of Eagles’ youngsters could face similar problems they had at this year’s AFOCN in Egypt, where he reckons that the physical style of African football and the weather conditions, all of which are different from what majority of the Nigerian players are used to at their various bases in Europe occasioned the team’s inability to win the competition.
Amo-Taxi told Brila FM: ‘Ordinarily, I will say a friendly against Brazil is a good idea, but the timing is not right. We have qualifiers in the African Nations Cup coming up, so we should play countries from Africa, not South America or Europe.
“We have to get our players used to the tough conditions of playing in Africa and the physical nature of the game here, but we cannot get that from playing Brazil in Singapore.
“It was the same mistake we made at the Nations Cup, because our players were not used to the African style of play, which is different from what they experience with their clubs in Europe.
“We should start playing African countries in friendly matches, rather than go for prestige games that will not benefit our players for their coming qualifiers for the Nations Cup.”