Joseph Dosu is confident Emmanuel Emenike can fire Nigeria to victory over Sudan in their first leg 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Khartoum on Saturday to rekindle their hopes of qualifying for the 3oth edition of the tournament in Morocco. The encounter kicks off at 6pm.
The Super Eagles backed themselves into a corner after the African champions picked up a solitary point to place third in the Morocco 2015 Group A table. They suffered a 3-2 shock defeat at the hands of Congo in their opening group game in Calabar on September 6 and battled to a goalless draw against South Africa in Cape Town four days later.
Congo, who won the championship in Cameroon in 1972, lead the group on six points, followed by 1996 champions South Africa on four points.
The Eagles must beat Sudan today to stand a chance of bagging a ticket to defend their title in Morocco next year, and former Nigeria goalkeeper Dosu believes Fenerbhace striker Emenike can prove the difference.
South Africa 2013 Africa Cup of Nations Golden Boot winner Emenike has not scored for Nigeria since October last year, and Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi piled more pressure on the 27-year-old after he dropped him to the bench against Congo. Although he started against South Africa, he could not help Nigeria win the clash. And Emenike last week criticised Keshi over comments credited to the former Nigeria captain that he was benched against Congo for coming late to camp and for not respecting him (Keshi) and his teammates.
However, Atlanta ’96 Olympic Games gold medallist Dosu, who defended Keshi’s decision, is backing the forward to handle the challenges he is facing and bounce back to stronger to lead the Eagles to victory in Khartoum.
“It’s unfortunate that things didn’t work out for the team when Emenike was sidelined against Congo,” the former Julius Berger star told our correspondent on the telephone during the week.
“The coach made the right decision and I think the player can lead the Eagles to victory in Sudan.
“He’s a good striker and he knows this is an opportunity to prove himself – that he still has a lot to offer the country. He can win the game for us.
“The team should put the disappointing results against Congo and South Africa behind them and move on. We should stop pointing accusing fingers.”
He added, “It’s an important match (against Sudan). We mustn’t lose or draw the game. If we do, we won’t defend our title in Morocco. But I believe we can beat Sudan home and away.
“South Africa beat them at home (Khartoum) 3-0. We can do the same if our players are determined and take their chances.”
Dosu insists the Eagles won’t miss Stoke City’s Victor Moses, who has been ruled out of action for three weeks following a thigh injury.
“Nigeria have never depended on one player to win games and it won’t be different this time around,” the former Italy-based keeper said.
“It’s unfortunate that Moses is injured. But we still have 22 players left. The development might offer another player a chance to shine and tie down a place in the first team.”
Dosu called for support for Keshi, saying the former Mali coach deserves some credit for winning the Africa Cup of Nations and guiding the country to a second round exit at Brazil 2014 World Cup.
He said, “It’s expected that people will criticise him because the Eagles are not performing. Success has many friends and relations while failure is an orphan. Keshi was a hero when he won the Africa Cup of Nations and helped Nigeria win a World Cup ticket.
“I think we should encourage him rather than criticising him.”
Nigeria host Sudan in the reverse fixture in Abuja on Wednesday while South Africa face Congo in Cape Town in the other group fixture the same day.
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