New Sierra Leone captain Steven Caulker is anticipating a difficult test against the Super Eagles of Nigeria in the 2023 Africa Cup qualifier.
The Leone Stars are in Group A of the qualifiers with Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau and the winner of Mauritius-Sao Tome and Principe.
Caulker and his teammates will open their campaign against the Super Eagles at the Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja next month.
The two countries drew twice (4-4 and 0-0) in the qualifiers for the previous African Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
“Our qualifying group is going to be tough, obviously Nigeria will be looking to bounce back from their disappointment following their elimination to Ghana in the 2022 World Cup,” Caulker told CAFonline.
“The qualifiers will therefore be a way to forget the disappointment so it will be a revengeful and difficult to manoeuvre around the Nigeria team which will be in front.”
The Leone Stars are still unable to play their home matches at the Siaka Stephens Stadium due to the poor state of the ground.
Caulker expressed disappointment with the situation but is adamant it won’t affect the team’s chances of qualifying for Cote d’lvoire 2023.
“To be honest, I would have loved to play in front of our fans in Sierra Leone, but that’s how it is, we have to be ready. It’s always good to face the best, it creates that challenge,” Caulker said.
“We have to be at our best for every game and against Nigeria is an opportunity to put Sierra Leone on the world football map. I’m sure like we did in the last AFCON, we have to be at our best for all games, not just against Nigeria, we should go into every game with the ambition to win it”, he continued.
Caulker, who was recently named captain of the Leone Stars, also stated that he is ready to take up the challenge of leading the team against the best nations in African football”.
“It would be difficult but I’m excited to start these qualifiers, we have a lot of new talent, new players, a new system and a new identity. I am really delighted to be able to lead this group in qualifying,” he explained.