'eagles will fall'
KUMASI - Claude le Roy, Ghana's coach, has predicted that the once mighty Super Eagles of Nigeria have finally reached the end of the road in the drama-filled 26th Africa Cup of Nations.
The Black Stars of Ghana take on perennial rivals Nigeria in a quarterfinal match at the Ohene Djan Stadium in Accra on Sunday night (7pm SA time) in what is expected to be one of the best games to date, with pressure more on the two coaches - Frenchman Le Roy and Berti Vogts.
The two coaches have been under pressure from the media, but the German is in a worse position after the Nigerian Football Association made it clear that his contract will be terminated with immediate effect if he does not win the tournament.
Meanwhile, Le Roy has pleaded with Ghanaians, who are unhappy with the team's performance despite a 100 percent unbeaten record in the group stages, to support the Black Stars.
He added that the team will not disappoint them at the end of the tournament.
"The Black Stars may not be the best team [at the tournament] but are good and would be the best at the end of the tournament," said the well-travelled, bespectacled coach, who won the same title with Cameroon in 1988.
Le Roy said he was looking forward to a big birthday present in the form of a ticket for the Stars to the semifinals. He turns 60 on Wednesday.
The low-profile Vogts could not be reached for comment, but team communications officer Peter Idahside said they were geared up for a win. The South African-based Idahside, who is also a soccer analyst for SuperSport, believes Ghana will be shown the stars this time round.
This was after Ghana defeated Nigeria 4-1 in an international friendly game in London last November.
Before that game, the two countries met in the group stages of the the Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia 2004 and in the quarterfinal at Egypt 2006. Nigeria won both fixtures 1-0.
Michael Essien, Ghana's star who is earning £90 000 a week at Chelsea in England, said: "We are ready for Nigeria but it will be a tough match. We are playing at home and cannot afford to lose. Our plan is to win the title for Ghana."
John Obi Mikel, one of Nigeria's influential players, said: "People are going to see a better Nigeria, it is true we did not do that well in the group stages, performance-wise."