Former national team captain, Segun Odegbami, has predicted that the Super Eagles of Nigeria will face Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire in the AFCON final.
Before the 34th edition in Cote d’Ivoire, the one named ‘The Mathematical’ had told everyone who cared to listen that Nigeria would be champions of Africa after February 11 – the day of the final match scheduled for the Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara. Very few believed him.
Even as he addressed the Super Eagles at their Pullman Hotel in Abidjan on the eve of their encounter with Guinea Bissau (the final match of the group phase), some persons who were there did not quite share in his conviction that the Eagles would be champions.
Today, many have been ‘converted’, and the 71-year-old legend says he is happy that things are going according to his expectations.
“I said long before the finals that we would be champions of Africa. Many people thought I was just sounding off. Now, they are seeing the light. Everyone appears to believe now that the Super Eagles can do it.
“Now that we are in the semifinals, I see that we are going to be playing the host nation, Cote d’Ivoire in the final. We are beating South Africa and Cote d’Ivoire will beat the Democratic Republic of Congo. The stage is set for a classic Final match on February 11.”
Recall that Odegbami won the Africa Cup of Nations gold and two bronze medals in seven years of energetic and diligent service to Nigeria in international football at the senior level.
The team was then known as the Green Eagles. He was the star of the 12th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations, hosted by Nigeria in 1980, scoring two excellent goals in a final that saw Nigeria spank the Fennecs of Algeria 3-0 at the National Stadium, Lagos.
During that tournament, he scored three goals, just as he did at the 1978 finals in Ghana, where Nigeria picked up bronze medals after Tunisia abandoned the classification match because of Baba Otu Mohammed’s equaliser.
He also played at the 1976 edition in Ethiopia, where the Green Eagles finished third behind Morocco and Guinea – the only AFCON played on a league basis to date.