Vogts knows Nigerians expect Nations Cup title


Marbella (Spain) : Nigeria coach Berti Vogts admits he will have a tough time holding on to his job unless his team shines in Ghana at the African Cup of Nations and returns with a third title.

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“The country is expecting us to win the title without conceding a goal,” the 61-year-old coach told DPA at his team’s preparation camp in Marbella ahead of the Jan 20 to Feb 10 tournament.

“But my last pay cheque came in on Dec 20, a nice Christmas present, so we have everything we need.”

Nigeria last won the Nations Cup in 1996 and head into this year’s tournament in Ghana looking to bridge that gap and also make up for the disappointment of failing to qualify for the 2006 World Cup finals in Vogts’ native Germany.

The Super Eagles have been drawn in Group B alongside Mali, Benin and fellow title hopefuls the Ivory Coast.

Nigeria will open their campaign Jan 21 in Sekondi against the Elephants, who lost their German coach Uli Stielike shortly before the start of the tournament as he has returned home to be with his critically ill son.

“The game drifts into the background. He has our sympathies,” said Vogts.

Nigeria’s Sports Minister Abdulrahman Hassan Gimba travelled to Marbella with the squad, an indication of how high expectations are in the country.

“We are giving you everything you need. But do us a favour and win the title,” he said.

The Super Eagles finished third in 2004 and 2006 and while Vogts has a contract until after the 2010 World Cup in South Africa he will be expected to at least match these feats.

Vogts believes football on the continent is a mixture of the styles played in Brazil and Argentina and that a World Cup on African soil could be the “last chance” for countries like Nigeria, Ghana and the Ivory Coast to take on and beat their more illustrious South American rivals.

Speaking for Nigeria, the former Germany coach bemoaned the lack of organisation compared to the German Football Federation (DFB).

“If the Nigerian Football Association was as organised as the DFB then Nigeria would have made the semi-finals of every World Cup in the last 12 years,” he said.

“Africa is a sleeping giant. Here, people live and love football.”