Garba Lawal has urged Nigeria to aim for an early goal when they take on the Republic of Benin in today’s Group L Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.
Although the three-time African champions won their last five meetings with the Squirrels, Lawal believes the game will not be a walk in the park and has urged the Super Eagles to play as a team in order to claim maximum points in the encounter.
“It is going to be a difficult game but Nigerians are expecting three points. The worst we can get from the match should be a draw. Nigerians will not accept anything less,” Lawal told Goal.
“I think the players know the expectations and are prepared. They have prepared for this in their respective clubs.
“With the young players in our team, I believe Nigeria can deliver. We have to play as a team, not as individuals. We must be more clinical.
“If we score early, we will not have a problem. We should convert our chances even if it is a half chance. We must not be looking for late goals.”
Nigeria will be without their first-choice goalkeeper Francis Uzoho, who is still recuperating from an injury he picked up in Nigeria’s 1-1 draw against Brazil.
Gernot Rohr has invited 20-year-old Fortuna Dusseldorf goalkeeper Maduka Okoye, Kaizer Chiefs shot-stopper Daniel Akpeyi and Ikechukwu Ezenwa, who plies his trade in the Nigerian Professional Football League.
“It will be an opportunity for other goalkeepers to showcase their talent. We should not have any problem in that area. Everyone wants to wear the Nigerian jersey, they should take their chance,” he continued.
“When Peter Rufai retired, our football continued, so I believe we will have a good replacement for him.”
After their encounter with the Squirrels, Nigeria will travel to Setsoto Stadium to tackle Lesotho in their second group match on Sunday.