Seychelles vs. Nigeria: Only a win will do for the Super Eagles
Nothing short of a win is expected and required from the Super Eagles when they face Seychelles away on Saturday. The alternative is simply unthinkable.
Despite the withdrawal of key players from the squad, the Nigerians should still have enough to secure a convincing win against opponents ranked 188th in the world.
Here are there reasons why only a win will do for the Eagles in Victoria.
...because they have to
It is not a matter of choice; anything short of a win in Victoria, and the Super Eagles might as well pack it in for the rest of the series.
With the group frontrunners facing off, Gernot Rohr's wards could get to as close as within one point of the leaders, assuming that game ends in a draw and the Eagles win, of course.
With a tricky double-header against Libya to come, with another showdown with Bafana - who have already defeated Nigeria during the series - and considering both of their rivals will likely take maximum points from the islanders, the Eagles cannot afford to slip up.
Any margin of victory works, but goals are required to make a statement, and if the Eagles want to stand out and really send a message to the other two contenders, then they need to not just win, but to win big.
Ahmed Musa reportedly earns $250 000 a week, while Odion Ighalo takes home about the same.
Even if the rest of the Super Eagles were on $0, the average earnings of the 21-man squad based on the wages of those two alone would come to nearly $400,000 a month.
By contrast, the average wage of the Seychellois team is 9000 rupees month, that is just over $630.
The difference is that stark.
As if that were not enough, each Super Eagles player will receive $5,000 bonus if they win the game, and half that for a draw.
The Seychelles players get nothing.
Disparity does not always translate to victory, but when the stakes are as high as Nations Cup qualification, they should.
Considering the financial stakes in play for the individuals in question, anything other than a victory would reflect particularly badly on the Super Eagles.
Ambitions, or lack thereof...
Seychelles are among the lowest-ranked of all the teams taking part in the qualification. They have been battered by Zimbabwe in the COSAFA Cup and by Libya on the opening day of qualifying.
Nigeria, despite their troubles, are ranked 49th in the world.
The island nation are aware of their station and have kept their ambitions fairly modest; to enjoy the ride and take whatever comes in their stride.
Nigeria, for their part, cannot afford to miss out on the Nations Cup. Not the players, not the fans and especially not the federation.
If the Eagles are serious about being the continental big dogs they claim to be, then they must be swatting away opponents like these.