By Izuchukwu Okosi:
Former Super Eagles defender Sam Sodje believes the Nigerian national team will not be distracted by the latest FIFA threat to ban Nigeria from international football following Chris Giwa imposition of himself as the new President of the NFF after last week’s NFF Congress in Abuja.
Stephen Keshi, who is yet to sign a new contract with the Nigeria Football Federation will be in charge of the team for the two African Cup of Nations qualifiers against DR Congo this Saturday and against South Africa next week Wednesday.
Sodje, who was recently cleared of any wrongdoing in a much publicised match-fixing scandals in England tells Completesportsnigeria.com from his base on Wednesday that from his experience whilst playing for the national team, players do not lose focus ahead of a crucial game.
“No, not at all. The administrative side of things have nothing to do with the players’ performance on the pitch. We’re not talking about their welfare here.
“Players don’t really think about stuff like that though we hope nothing like a ban happens because we have been there before and it was not a good experience.
“When the Nigerian government withdrew us from participating in the 1996 African Cup of Nations in South Africa, when we were ready to defend our Nations Cup title, it was a painful moment of our careers then,” Sodje recalls.
Speaking further, Sodje warns that the Eagles stars who are currently preparing for the game in Calabar, must not underrate their opponents.
“My advise to the players will be that they treat the game as every other important game. They may be African champions, but they will be playing Congo who are going to fight with everything they’ve got.
“Nigeria is seen as good as qualifying for the Nations Cup already to defend the title next year, so that leaves DR Congo and South Africa as the other countries to contest for the other qualification spot. That will be the motivation for the Congo team,” Sodje stresses.
The Nigeria versus DR Congo game will be played at the UJ Eusene Stadium, Calabar on Saturday at 5pm Nigerian time.