African countries react to draws for Russia 2018

Muhammad Tahir Hassan & Omolayo Ogunmesin (Abuja) with agency reports

Coaches and football administrators of teams involved in the Africa final rounds of qualification to the FIFA World Cup Russia 2018 have responded to the draws.

The draws which held at the headquarters of the Confederation of African Football (Caf) had the 20 teams grouped into five groups with each group having four teams each.

Reacting to the draws, Amaju Pinnick, the President of the Nigeria Football Federation said:

“It is a tough draw, but then I have always said that you have to beat the best to get to the World Cup. Now we have the draw, we know how to prepare. The preparation has to start right now and we must make good use of every single day leading to the kick –off of the series. The other pools are tough as well, because for me, you can never afford to under –rate any team these days. Now we must quickly sort out the issue of Head Coach and his assistants and put every other thing in place in good time.”

On his part, the Coach of the Super Eagles Salisu Yusuf  said “It is a tough draw but with commitment, determination & motivation, The Super eagles will qualify.”

Hector Cuper, the Head Coach of the Egyptain national team whose side is in group E with Ghana, Congo and Uganda responded by saying:

“It’s a tough group, as are all the other groups. We are thinking of the last time when Ghana defeated Egypt to qualify; it’s history now. We fear no one. Our target is the World Cup so we have to work, work, work, and let’s hope we can do it. It’s the best possible group because it’s already our group. We’re destined to play here so let’s play and win. I call on Egyptians to have faith in their team and support us till we achieve our dream.”

Also Arsenal and Egypt player Mohamed ElNeny said “We didn’t have any favourable opponents. The team that wants to qualify has to face all the others without any preferences. Egypt has a new generation of players that have the character and will to play against any team. We want to make Egyptians happy. The last time we played in the FIFA World Cup, I wasn’t even born, so it’s about time to experience the World Cup once again. I’m positive we can qualify regardless of our opponents.”

Ghana will be hoping to make it to Russia by topping their group and the President of the Ghana Football Association Kwesi Nyantaki analyzed the group of the Black Stars:

“It’s a tough group for us surely. Uganda is a good team, Congo is good too, but Egypt are our toughest opponent. Beating them in the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifications doesn’t give us any psychological advantage. On the contrary, it’s a disadvantage. They will come to payback, and we have to be aware. I watched some games for Egypt and they have a new and very good team. We will play each game to win and I’m sure we will qualify to Russia 2018.”

Herve Renard, the coach of Morocco will face his former side Ivory Coast as well as Gabon and Mali in group C spoke on the draws:

The game will be played on the pitch and one must be effective. On the field is never like on paper. I am very happy for Cote d’Ivoire and lucky with Mali and Gabon. The most important thing is to be part and play for a qualification in the World Cup. All the groups are tough. You can have the feeling of being in a good position but we must always be careful and be strong when necessary.”

Tunisia last appeared at the World Cup in 2006 and their coach Henryck Kasperczak said they North Africans have a great chance of qualifying:

“Tunisia has a chance of qualification. Everything will be on the field because Guinea is also a good team. There’s also the Democratic Republic of Congo that has made enormous progress as evidenced by its results in the AFCON and the CHAN. We don’t have to be negligent and prepare for the job. On the issue of luck, luck exists and I would say it was 60 per cent for us today.”

The Head coach of Cameroon’s national team Hugo Broos summed up the chances of his team by saying:

“This is the group of death and it’s a very difficult group, especially with a team like Algeria, you also have Zambia and Nigeria, three very good teams. It will be very difficult for each team in the group. We will see what happens on the opening days in in October and November.”