Akwa United star midfielder Alhassan ‘Muazzam’ Ibrahim says Nigeria will not underrate Benin Republic when both teams clash this weekend in the first leg of the 2018 African Nations Championships (CHAN) qualifying playoff.
The home-based Super Eagles will be guests of the Squirrels in Cotonou on Sunday before the reverse fixture in Kano, a week later, with aggregate winners advancing to the tournament which is exclusive for players plying their trade in their respective domestic leagues.
In a chat with www.busybuddiesng.com ahead of the two-legged tie, the former Flying Eagles star admitted that there are no minnows in football these days and as such, Benin will not be taken for granted.
“In football now, there are no lesser countries,” the 20-year old said. “Benin Republic are a good side because they have qualified by beating Togo.
“We are not going to underrate them. We are going to approach them with all seriousness, and we are going to give it all and give it our best.
“Hopefully, by God’s grace, we are going to qualify Nigeria for the CHAN coming up next year.”
The lanky and very skillful midfielder also stated that he will be working very hard to ensure he gets a place in the starting lineup against the West Africans.
“I am going to work hard. (There are) a lot of good players,” he said.
“To select 30 out of the entire number of players in the country is a massive achievement for me and it was good.
“I am going to work hard and to make sure that I get my starting shirt to play for Nigeria and of course, it will be a good opportunity for me, for my family, for my team and for Nigerians in general.”
Nigeria finished third in the 2014 CHAN in South Africa under the tutelage of late Stephen Keshi but was eliminated from the group phase of the last edition in Rwanda last year when Sunday Oliseh was in charge of the team.