Nigeria will carry the favourites tag going into Friday’s Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final against Angola but are wary of the sizeable challenge presented by the COSAFA side.
The Super Eagles have progressed from nine of their previous 10 quarter-final ties, the only blemish a loss to host Ghana in 2008. Angola, meanwhile, have never got further than this stage, but have shown enough in the Ivory Coast to suggest they can spring a surprise.
“It’s a quarter-final match. Both teams want to reach the semi-finals. It will be a tough match; we will bring commitment and sacrifice to try to overcome this great team, even if it’s not a big name, to reach the semi-final,” Nigeria coach Jose Peseiro said.
“Angola is not a big name in Africa, but they play very well. They are not here by luck; they have shown a lot of capability to reach the quarter-finals. Our team has scored five goals in four matches so far. We will attack with 11 and defend with 11 as well.”
Experienced midfielder Alex Iwobi is also under no illusions about the challenge presented by Palancas Negras.
“We watched the videos. It will be a tough match. They won the last match with a large score, and we also defend well. We will give everything on the field to reach the semi-finals,” he said.
“We have to respect Angola a lot. If they are at this stage of the competition, it means they are a great team. We need the entire team to defend. It won’t be easy because it’s a team that scores a lot. I rely on my teammates to meet the challenge.”
Angola are set on making history and may feel they have a chance against a Nigeria team that has yet to really fire at the finals.
“This match means a lot for our team and for the entire Angolan nation, which has dreamed for years of seeing the team at this stage of the competition. We will face Nigeria, a great nation in African football,” Angola coach Pedro Gonçalves said.
“This match is an opportunity to show our worth; we have worked and given our all to reach this level of the competition. I congratulate my team, which has always been dedicated. The match is an opportunity to show that we have evolved.
“We respect Nigeria for what they have demonstrated so far in African football. Currently, Nigeria has a very strong team with players who play in major European leagues, such as the Premier League and Serie A. They use the best playing system to compete in this Africa Cup of Nations.”
Angola midfielder Show says his teammates are desperate to make history.
“We will have a match that will allow us to prove ourselves. I am proud of what we have accomplished since the beginning and especially the pride that we currently represent for our country,” he said.
“We will fight against Nigeria as we did in the first four matches.”