Amodu faces rival for coach post

2010-01-19 10:23

Shuaibu Amodu faces the man who could succeed him as coach of

Nigeria when they play Mozambique in a key Africa Cup of Nations game at

Tundavala Stadium on tomorrow.

Reports have linked Mart Nooij from the Netherlands with the

awesome task of leading Nigeria against Argentina, Greece and South Korea at the

World Cup in South Africa.

And if Mozambique win the Group C match and qualify for the

quarter-finals at the expense of Nigeria, Amodu seems certain to be sacked while

the shares of Nooij will inevitably soar.

Pressure on Amodu heightened after a 3-1 loss to defending

champions Egypt in their first match before surviving a win-or-quit ultimatum as

a Yakubu Aiyegbeni penalty delivered a laboured victory over Benin.

Nigerian football officials have told the coach nothing less than a

Nations Cup semi-finals place will do although he was fired ahead of the 2002

World Cup despite finishing third at the African tournament the same year.

Nooij caught the eye of Nigeria after his Mambas (Snakes) were

unlucky to be held in Maputo and lost to a stoppage-time goal in Abuja when the

countries met in 2010 Nations Cup qualifiers.

Before heading south to Mozambique the Dutch coach had a major

impact at youth level in the west African state of Burkina Faso, leading the

national team to the world championship for the first time.

Egypt, who face Benin in the other group fixture to be staged at

the same time in Benguela, have a maximum six points from two outings and are

certain of a quarter-finals slot.

The other three countries remain in contention to join the

‘Pharaohs’ with twice champions Nigeria favoured because a draw will suffice

while Benin and Mozambique must win to have any chance of surviving the

mini-league cull.

Although collecting a solitary point from a possible six and lying

bottom of the standings, Mozambique have impressed during their fourth

appearance at the biennial African football showcase.

They came from two goals behind to draw 2-2 with Benin and matched

Egypt for 48 minutes before a second Dario Khan own goal in as many games gifted

the title holders a lead they doubled via a late volley.

“We made it very hard for Egypt despite giving away a soft goal

that forced us to chase the game. Otherwise it would have been a lot more

difficult for the reigning champions to beat us,” said Nooij.

But Nigeria midfielder and man of the match against Benin Osaze

Odemwingie is convinced his team-mates will emerge victorious and reach the

knockout phase as they seek a first African title since beating Zambia 16 years

ago in Tunis.

“We lacked confidence against Egypt in our first game but were much

more relaxed when beating Benin and I believe we will deliver an even better

performance on tomorrow,” promised the Moscow-based star.

“Mozambique are a team we know having played them twice last year

and I am confident we will give our best display so far in Angola, win the match

and advance to the last eight.

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