Nigeria skipper on titanic clash against Cote d’Ivoire: “This game is loaded”

Nigeria skipper on titanic clash against Cote d’Ivoire: “This game is loaded”

Nigeria defender and captain William Troost-Ekong says the stakes are now higher going into their second match of the AFCON against hosts Cote d’Ivoire, who got the jitters out of the way with a win.

While the Super Eagles labored to a 1-1 draw with Equatorial Guinea, their rivals powered their way to three points by brushing Guinea-Bissau aside. 

Ekong stopped short of labelling tomorrow’s match at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium a must win for Nigeria.  

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"Of course, this second game is more loaded than the first one. From what I've seen from the players I don't think there's more nerves. We have many players that play in big stadiums, with big crowds, for big games and I think that's what we love to do," Troost-Ekong said.

The Greece-based centre back spoke highly of The Elephants but believes Nigeria too are a superpower with the ability to pick up their first victory at the continental competition.

"You come to play in AFCON to play against the best teams in Africa and after watching the first game I consider Ivory Coast a very strong team but the margins are small. I think in the first game if we would have walked away maybe 4-5-1 then it would have been a different conversation and Ivory Coast were clinical and we know they are gonna be the same for the next game but I believe very much in our team,” Troost-Ekong added.

“I think we are gonna face them heard on and try to improve like the coach said. Maybe in our final third but it's gonna be a big job for us defenders as well because I think they have a lot of attacking quality."

Describing the reaction from his teammates after the stalemate against Equatorial Guinea, the skipper says they were dejected, but have put the result past them.

"For us, the first game was frustrating because of course we wanted to win. We've put that behind us now, I think the changeroom and the players reacted well. We trained well the last few days. I think there was a clear understanding of what we want to do better."