The Red Devils of the Congo if and when they arrive in Nigeria will have the unenviable task of finally beating the Super Eagles in Calabar.
Other than Kenya nobody has come close in the last century and that marred with the Ebola distraction off the field, will make the task even more difficult for the Central Africans on it.
But as we know football is totally different on paper as to when it is actually played and the task though gargantuan is not impossible for the team led by the famous ‘witchdoctor’ Claude Leroy.
In fact many in the Nigerian camp are calling them much more difficult than the Rwandans who were rightfully expelled for cheating.
That much is Leroy respected and rightfully so because he has been a galvanizing force throughout Africa.
Regardless of the mans’ prowess though, history and the numbers favour the men in Green and White.
The Super Eagles have met the Red Devils 9 times in all competitions, winning 5, drawing 3 and losing 1. In the process the birds have outscored the Devils by double, netting 10 goals and conceding just 5. And when the Red Devils qualified for the 1970 Nations Cup by beating Nigeria and lifting the Cup hosted in Cameroon, many will point out that Nigeria was fully distracted by Biafra and fielded a subpar team.
Can the witch doctor Leroy weave his magic and end the Eagles amazing run in Calabar?
As usual the Gaffer is holding his cards close to his vest and we won’t know how far he will deviate from the lineup that shockingly imploded against The Wasps and allowed them to claw back in the series and win the penalty shoot-out.
One thing will be for certain and that is that the Devils whose ranks are filled by players from the local Leopards, will move the ball quickly and with purpose down the flanks and up the Eagles middle just as they play at home.
Their style compliments that of the Frenchman Leroy and can best be described as an all-out controlled fury and explains why four of their five last coaches have all been French. So make no mistakes about the fact that the Congolese will be relentless up front and frugal behind and set to make their seventh ANC appearance a reality.
Nigeria meanwhile will be facing a myriad of distractions herself and is ripe to have her balloon of invincibility at home punctured. On the field she might still be wobbly after the post-World Cup hiatus and will be without her best player.
Yes the man who flies with Angels at his side namely Africa’s best Goal Keeper Vincent Enyeama, will be replaced by rookie David Obiazor due to family issues.
Meanwhile off the field Keshi’s unresolved contract issue, the morbid power struggle within the NFF that has now become a national disgrace, as well as the resulting closure of both the NPFL and NNL may now all snowball into something much more serious for the African champion.
Will Nigeria miss The Magnet or will Obiazor stand just as firm?
So at the end of the day the biggest threat to Nigeria may not come from the Devils themselves or Leroy’s “juju playbook” but from outside forces within her own borders. But to many a pundit this is no news and they will say this is exactly what Keshi and his coaches have been facing from day one and have yet blossomed.
They and the millions of Eagles fans also remain steadfast in their belief that the big Boss and his boys will not be distracted by any minutia but persevere and negotiate past another bump in their road to success.
Game time is on Sunday at 17.00 CAT and the weather is expected to be mostly sunny at circa 26°C. The game will be Live on SS Channel 9 and on LiveText here on supersport.com.