'They can't stop us' - Sudan gear up revenge against Nigeria after 46 years

By Innocent Benjamin

Sudan have issued a battle warning to AFCON favourites Nigeria, ahead of their group clash on Saturday

Sudan Forward, Yasin Hamed, In a press conference for Sudan

The Sudanese national football team are gearing up preparations for their clash against Nigeria in the second round of Group D matches of the African Cup of Nations in Cameroon. 

The Super Eagles lead the group standings with 3 points after their relatively easy 1-0  over the Pharaohs of Egypt on Tuesday. 

Ahead of the clash, Sudan and Guinea-Bissau are locked in second place with a point apiece following their goalless draw, while Egypt are the initial basement boys. 

A vengeance 46 years in the making

Although Nigeria are miles apart from their Sudanese counterpart in terms of quality, this is not the case in motivational terms. 

Despite the no-contest nature of the tie, Sudan will be more than motivated to upset their West African brothers and alter the history books. 

This motivation, mostly incited by vengeance, is spurred by Nigeria's 1-0 win over the Falcons of Jediane in 1976 in the African Nations Cup Ethiopia. 

This will be just the third meeting between the North and West African sides in Africa's showpiece competition. The first head-to-head clash took place in the fourth edition of the tournament in Ghana 1963.

The Falcons of Jediane drew first blood with a 4-0 thrashing of a mediocre Nigerian team, but thirteen years later Nigerian took their own pound of flesh through a 1-0 victory in Ethiopia 1976.

In all competitions however, both teams met as recently as October 2014 in the African Cup of Nations qualifier in Equatorial Guinea where the Eagles inflicted a crushing 3-1 defeat on Sudan.

The Sudanese national team are currently facing the painful predicament of having to play without striker Mohamed Abdel Rahman who sustained a possible tournament-ending injury against Guinea-Bissau. 

Burhan Tia, manager of Soqur Al-Jedyan, confirmed the absence of the Al-Hilal man and welcomed the giant-killing challenge:

"We want to get a positive result against Nigeria to ensure our chances in the tournament, and although the Nigeria team is organized and showed a good level against Egypt, this will not prevent us from getting a positive result," Burhan Tia said in a press conference. 

"We have confidence in the players and the determination of our youth, and they will present a new match, as they showed with a promising performance against Guinea-Bissau, and we will present a good show and will continue in the tournament until we achieve our goal," he added. 

"Except for the absence of Mohamed Abdel Rahman, all the players are ready, and God willing, they will be on their day to present a match worthy of Sudan's reputation, and we wish success in achieving a positive result."

"This is a final"

At the other end of the battlefield, coach Augustin Eguavoen has been ruthless in his assessment of both his team and opponents:

"Our approach is to treat any confrontation as a final," said the interim manager, "I am focused on winning against Sudan for now. I don’t want to think about any record or how we go about our third match. Sudan is in focus now and we have to deal with that, squarely."

Striker Kelechi Iheanacho, Nigeria's only scorer at the competition so for was also bullish about his country's chances: "All we can think about now is how to beat Sudan and Guinea-Bissau in the next two games.

"Nigerians can be sure we will do our best in this competition." 

Orlando Pirates' Olisa Ndah, who was drafted in at the death, also had his expectations high: 

"We are looking forward to a good match against Sudan."

Kenneth Omeruo, who is possibly out of the tie with an injury, pointed out: 

"The victory over Egypt was a good start, but that does not mean that the next match against Sudan will be easy, and for this you must treat the match seriously to achieve victory and qualify for the next stage."

Maduka Okoye, one of the large Premier League contingency in the squad, said:

"We are Nigeria and we are strong enough to beat everybody.

“I think the game against Sudan is going to be a more physical game. But, also, in this squad we have enough physical qualities.

“I am sure we can also get the job done against Sudan."

Captain Troost-Ekong also echoed his teammates optimism, albeit with a tinge of respect for their opponents:

"We are going to approach it the same way we did against the Egyptians. Game by game we are going to go further. 

“So, we will keep cool and stay humble as we’ve got all it takes to get over the Sudanese." 

Finally, winger Moses Simon, who was a menace to the Egyptians, called for caution as the 125th ranked Sudan side were no pushovers:

"The game against Sudan is something we just need to be careful with because now in Africa, there is no small team,” said the Nantes man. 

“So, of course, we just need to go all in all. The way we took the game against Egypt is likewise the same thing that we are going to do against Sudan. We have to do our best and give 100 percent to have three points.”

Nigeria versus Sudan kicks off at 17:00 WAT and ZonalSports will keep readers posted on all the match highlights.