A win over the Chipolopolo of Zambia next month in Uyo will confirm Nigeria’s place at Russia 2018 with one round of matches left to be played.
To the surprise of many, the NFF look to be eyeing the very best European teams as the Super Eagles gear up for the World Cup with possible games against reigning World Champions Germany and former champions Spain.
According to the NFF official match agent Jairo Pachon, as revealed by SCORENigeria, plans have begun in earnest to ensure that the Eagles get quality opposition as they prepare for the World Cup, barely ten months away.
“We have started work already, looking at the available windows for World Cup friendlies, the only available date before the World Cup for friendly is in March 2018 and its being a long time that we played an Asian side,” he said.
The only trouble with getting the desired opposition will be the draws, which will be conducted in December. Pachon explained that it will be easier to get the big wigs, if the draws pit them with an African side early on.
“I am working with fellow agents in Europe to see if we can arrange a series of friendlies, but this would also depend on the World Cup draw but it could give us the opportunity to play countries like Germany, France, Netherlands, Spain and if possible Brazil.”
Pachon clarified that “If any of these countries I mentioned end up with an African team [that is not Nigeria]in their group I am sure that they would want to play Nigeria because of our current form and quality of play as part of their preparations for the World Cup.”
The Colombian FIFA-licensed match agent explained why it has been difficult to get countries in the top ten ranking play Nigeria.
“It’s not difficult to get the top 10 countries in the world. It’s a decision by the other federation to play or not to play. It’s not just Nigeria, it’s the same with other African teams,” he explained.
“When the World Cup comes it’s a different issue. Because if England and France or Germany do not have Nigeria in their group and have other African countries, then it would be easy to have us play these top countries.
However, the turnout of supporters – the Super Eagles have played majority of their friendly games in Europe – have been quite disappointing over the years, and Pachon reckons, that has a negative effect on its own.
“Nigerians love football but Nigerians outside Nigeria are not good supporters. They ask for these matches, but they never come out for the matches.
“If you see Colombia coming to London, in 2014 I arranged the friendly between Colombia and USA in London within 48 hours it was sold out in Fulham.”
“I have brought the Super Eagles to England on several occasions and the turnout has been disappointing. Remember before leaving to the World Cup in 2014 we played against Scotland in London and there were more scouts than Nigerians.
“So, if it’s not a federation decision, and the coach does not request for the friendly then as agents we arrange the match, but this depends on the team, that means money from ticketing and Nigeria is not there compared to countries like Spain and Uruguay.”
Despite the challenges, Pachon reckons that the Eagles can attract the big teams if they stayed consistent enough.
“Of course look, Colombia was not where it is today before the World Cup in Brazil,” he said.
“So, I think if the Eagles can be consistent with their quality of play and continue to deliver on the pitch of play like the way we did against Cameroon and being consistent, that would help attract the big countries.”