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Africa Cup of Nations

Nigeria coach Abdallah claims Super Eagles are Afcon 2023 favourites: 'We have a world-class squad'

11:19 PM IST 16/08/22
Super Eagles, Nigeria
The veteran coach thinks transfers to big clubs is an indication the three-time African champions will rule the continent in Cote d’Ivoire

Nigeria are outstanding favourites to win the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, according to Super Eagles assistant coach Usman Abdallah.

The 48-year-old made this statement following big transfer moves made by the three-time African champions' key players.

Following an impressive 2021-22 campaign with Union Berlin, Taiwo Awoniyi made a club-record move to Nottingham Forest, with Emmanuel Dennis joining him at the City Ground recently.

Joe Aribo completed a move to Premier League outfit Southampton, with his former Gers teammate Calvin Bassey moving to Dutch giants Ajax.

“This [transfer] is an excellent development and it is a strong indication that our players are doing very well,” Abdallah told GOAL.

“It is also a challenge for us [Super Eagles coaches] to produce a strong national team that can bring back the country’s glory days.

“Our focus is the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire and with the squad on ground, we are favourites to emerge as African champions.

“Right now, everything is working in our favour as we have a world-class squad and we cannot afford to let Nigerians down.

“Ultimately, we hope these big transfers motivate other players to do well so they can be signed by top European clubs in future.”

"Everything is going in our favour and we can’t afford to let Nigerians down, we hope that will motivate other teams to do well ad be bought by big clubs.”

Nigeria failed at Afcon 2021 after crashing out in the Round of 16 following defeat to Cameroon.

A few months later, they failed to qualify for the 2022 Fifa World Cup Qatar after losing to Ghana in the play-off round.

Notwithstanding the setbacks, the former Enyimba and Kano Pillars tactician is upbeat that the Jose Peseiro-led technical crew will change the narrative.

He added: “We have started very well and hope that the players and coaches' unity continue this way because the results are coming.

“We have played two matches – which we won convincingly. We are hoping to continue that way.

“Nigerians have been supportive to us and by the grace of God, we will deliver and make everyone happy.

“I can tell you that Nigeria have the best assembly of technical crew ever and we as assistants will ensure he achieves all set goals.
“He [Peseiro] has been cooperative and accommodating. Also, he is a democratic coach who listens to the view of other coaches before taking decisions.”

Meanwhile, the Confederation of African Football had confirmed that the 2023 Afcon will be delayed from a summer staging to the start of 2024 amid concerns over the weather conditions in Cote d’Ivoire.

The 34th edition of Africa’s top international competition was set to take place next year between June and July 2023.

However, a calendar change was made to avoid the pitfalls of the rainy season - and for the second successive iteration, will set the tournament mid-season for many of its best players based in Europe.