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Sports News of Thursday, 16 November 2023


‘A lot at stake for us’ - Coach Notsi says ahead of Nigeria’s World Cup qualifier against Lesotho

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Lesotho head coach, Leslie Notsi, has revealed that there is a lot at stake playing against one of the best team in Africa tomorrow at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, reports.

The Super Eagles of Nigeria are slated to tackle the Crocodiles of Lesotho in Uyo tomorrow for their Group C 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifiers opener to secure all points.

Notsi highlighted the challenge of playing against a team with formidable talents and mentioned their recent narrow loss (1-0) against Cote d’Ivoire, suggesting that this experience has prepared his team for the encounter against Nigeria.

“Well, there is a lot at stake for us. Playing one of the best countries in the continent. It’s for our boys to get exposure, and we are coming on a note that we are getting a very tough encounter. But with the results that we have had as a small footballing country.

“Having played up to the final of the COSAFA Cup in Southern Africa, and playing against Cote d’Ivoire where we lost 1-0, I think this game comes at the right moment where we can see how we fair against one of the best teams in Africa. So, we just appreciate the moment,” Notsi stated.

Regarding their underdog status, Notsi admitted the discrepancy in experience and exposure, citing Nigeria’s players competing in top European leagues compared to his squad.

“Yes, of course, we are underdogs. On paper, when you look at Nigeria, having qualified several times for the World Cup, and AFCON, the talent it has playing abroad in the best European leagues. It is going to be a tough encounter.” Notsi acknowledged.

While tempering World Cup aspirations, Notsi expressed optimism, drawing motivation from their recent matches and the COSAFA Cup final appearance against Zambia.

“Talking about qualifying for the World Cup, for now, I think it would be too ambitious for us. But, I am saying at the COSAFA Cup, we played up till the final against Zambia. Coming into this game, the morale is high in our team. We played with Côte d’Ivoire and played 1-0 with the expectation that we were going to lose 5-0 or more, but we were able to hold ourselves and play. So this match is coming at the right time when we are saying, let’s again see how far we have progressed as a small footballing country.” Notsi added.

The Super Eagles, having secured draws and victories in their previous matches, aim to capitalize on their form against Lesotho.