Pharaohs of Egypt defender Rami Rabia has opened up on the motivation of the seven time Africa Cup of Nations champions in their double 2017 AFCON qualifiers against Nigeria, Completesportsnigeria.com reports
Rabia who plays for Egyptian top side Al Ahly was inspirational in the two games – in Kaduna and Alexandria on March 25 and 29, 2016 and the defender spoke to Egypt's leading football website, Kingfut, on the outcome of those confrontations.
“We haven’t qualified yet, football has got no master. We have to take Tanzania seriously, we have to play well and win in Tanzania," Rabia told Kingfut.
"We don’t want to complicate things for ourselves and think about goal difference, points, wins and draws. We need to go into the game with a clear conscious just like we are now after beating Nigeria,” Rabia further said.
The former Sporting Lisbon star then rubbished claims by the Super Eagles team prior to the game that Egypt should show respect to Nigeria.
“We weren’t concentrating with what Nigerian officials and players had to say. But on the contrary, when we did hear about what they said it gave us a push to prove to everyone that we can do something good for ourselves and prove to them that they were wrong.
“Nigeria might have names that are bigger than ours but football was never a ‘names game’, football was always known by your performance and fight on the pitch.
Nigeria Football Federation claimed Egypt had lacked the 'fundamentals of fair player' after the 1-1 draw at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium Kaduna as Eagles defender Godfrey Oboabona was fouled moments before Mohamed Salah's late equaliser.
“This is nonsense. They started with the lack of fair play in the match. I remember our player was on the ground in the match at Kaduna and Nigeria did not kick the ball out of the pitch. Later in the second half, Hossam Ghaly did to them what they had done to us. That to me seems fair enough,” Rabia stressed.
“When they came to Alexandria, we put the ball out of play when their player got injured [Oghenekaro Etebo], if we lacked fair play we wouldn’t have.
Rabia revealed what his national team coach Hector Cuper detailed him to do against Nigeria
“Personally, Mr.Cuper gave me the responsibility of man-marking Odion Ighalo, even in set-pieces I was the one marking him. Regarding the long balls, we practiced them a lot because in Kaduna, the Super Eagles’ fullbacks went forward a lot so we wanted to expose those areas by sending long balls to Marwan Mohsen with him or the midfield players sending the ball behind the fullbacks to Salah, Ramadan or Trezeguet.
“In the second match the fullbacks did not attack much as we hit them in those areas in Kaduna so when they came to Alexandria, their fullbacks stayed put in their places,” the 22-year-old revealed.
“From my point of view, Odion Ighalo and Victor Moses were Nigeria’s best players. I wasn’t too impressed with their defensive midfielder John Obi Mikel," the defender stated.
Egypt now have seven points following the withdrawal of Chad from the qualifying race.