Eagles team to beat at AFCON 2023 – Lawal

Former Super Eagles midfielder, Dimeji Lawal, believes the national team has what it takes to win the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast.

Dimeji stated this while speaking as a special guest of the ex-University Ibadan FA virtual interactive program.

The Eagles are drawn in Group A alongside hosts Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea-Bissau, at the 36th edition of the AFCON, which was held from January 13 to February 11, 2024, across five cities.

In their bid to claim their fourth AFCON title, the Eagles will square off against Equatorial Guinea on January 13 in Abidjan in their first match of the tournament.

The U-17 and U-20 World Cup silver medallist stated, “Nigeria will be the team to beat at the next CAF Nations Cup. I have no doubt about that.

“We have the generation of young African talents doing so well in various European top clubs. Not only that, they are young and have the opportunity to play with and against the best legs week in and week out.

“Notwithstanding the talent depth of the Super Eagles, this group of players have not won anything tangible for the country yet, except at their club sides. I am very sure that will be a big drive for them to really cement their arrival as new boys on the block.”

With just 71 days to the football showpiece, the former Real Madrid B player, however, cautioned against experimenting with the team ahead of the tournament.

“My advice for the technical crew is simple: the time of trials should be over,” he said.

“We have had enough of testing and trials. It is time to build a formidable team with cohesion and understanding. Suddenly, we have become a country without a standing team. It’s not the best for our football.

“I know the first 11 of Germany, England, Spain, Holland, and France, unless there are any unforeseen circumstances — injuries, sickness, etc. Our coaching crew keeps searching for new half-casts or overseas-born players every day. That must stop now so that they can focus on team cohesion.”