Nigeria ready to overcome crisis of confidence

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BENGUELA (Angola): Nigeria were confident they could win their first African Nations Cup in more than a decade despite suffering a crisis of confidence.

World Cup-bound Nigeria were thrashed 3-1 in their opening match against African champions Egypt and were lucky to scrape to a 1-0 win over unfancied Benin thanks to a penalty.

But Nigeria are now ready to live up to their billing as one of the front runners for the title.

“Having lost to Egypt we had to expect there was a crisis of confidence in our camp and we had to be careful in our game against Benin. Even when we were up against them, we were not confident but at least we got our points,” coach Shaibu Amodu told reporters.

Striker Peter Odemwingie pointed out that Nigeria had a habit of starting slowly in tournament before adding: “Every game we play we get better.

“We have the quality players to go to the final. If we play to our potential, we believe we can win the cup.”

A draw against Mozambique in their last Group C game in Lubango on Wednesday would carry them into the knockout phase.

Amodu has been without striker Obafemi Martins, who is recovering from surgery on a shin injury, and will also probably have to cope without captain Joseph Yobo, who injured a hamstring on Saturday in the win against Benin.

Despite his injury woes, Amodu reminded the depth of talent he had at his disposal.

“I have made the point before that all of the 23 squad members are capable of playing in this tournament. We have enough in reserve,” Amodu told reporters.

Nigeria last won the Nations Cup in 1994. They have reached the semifinals four of the last five tournaments. — Reuters

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