Jittery Super Eagles change their arrival plansThomas Kwenaite
The notorious high altitude in Johannesburg is playing havoc with the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) as they have reversed an earlier decision to arrive in the country on Friday and will now touch down on Thursday.
Initial plans were to arrive at the city that is 1700 above sea level only on Friday morning, then head to the match venue for a light training session in the afternoon to get a feel of the playing turf and be ready for kick-off the next day.
The idea was to avoid being affected by the high altitude, which the late Stephen Keshi once confessed that when they played a 0-0 draw against Bafana Bafana back in 1995, the altitude caught up with them and they were literally dragging their feet towards the end of the match as they struggled to breath.
But plans to arrive on the eve of the match have now been shot down by several people within the NFF and following complaints by the crew and several players who claimed they would barely have time to relax before the match, departure plans have been changed.
The team will now depart from Asaba in the Delta State and arrive in Johannesburg on Thursday night and the players and technical committee wish to have at least two training sessions under their belt before facing their moment of truth.
The flight to Johannesburg has been scheduled for 5pm on Thursday, which means the Eagles will not train on the same day but will conduct a non-official morning session at a field that would be made available through the Nigerian Embassy and would then get a feel of the match venue in the evening.
And while Nigeria have lined-up a friendly game back home against Uganda on Tuesday, Bafana Bafana will face Paraguay in the annual Nelson Mandela Challenge at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban also on the same day as well.
But before the two protagonists can even think about Uganda and Paraguay, there is the little matter of the do-or-die even if some have described it as the all-or-nothing clash at the FNB Stadium on Saturday where the winner will qualify for the 2019 AFCON in Cameroon.