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Nigeria must not underestimate Libya despite Amrouche exit

The Super Eagles have a reputation for underestimating weaker opponents and teams in crisis over the years, a trend which has seen Nigeria humbled on various occasions.

Ahead of Saturday's Group E Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against table-toppers Libya, Nigeria must be warned about the consequences of handling the threat of a crisis-laden opponent lightly.

Libya coach Adel Amrouche quit his job after five months with the Mediterranean Knights on Tuesday - the Algerian alleging unpaid wages and a face-off with senior members of the team arising from a tactical dispute.

The situation has led to an emergency recall for local favourite Omar Al-Maryami, who led Libya to a fourth-place finish at the 2018 African Nations Championship.

Al-Maryami's Libya team almost created an upset against Nigeria at the tournament in Morocco, with the Super Eagles requiring a 79th-minute Sunday Faleye stunner to progress.

He will surely have picked up some valuable lessons ahead of his latest contest against the West Africans.

Despite the sudden resignation of Amrouche, Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr has warned his team against any complacency ahead of what could prove to be a decisive home tie.

"The coach can change, but the players and his assistants are still there, so it won't be an easy game because they changed the coach," he said, as per Vanguard.

"Sometimes, it's even more difficult when a new coach joins the team because the players then want to show what they can do."

While Amrouche might have drawn up the 22-man squad ahead of the double-header against Nigeria, Al-Maryami, to his credit, masterminded the Libyans' solitary win in the group - a comprehensive 5-1 home success against Seychelles in their opener.

Al-Maryami and the rest of the team must feel confident of their chances of earning a second successive road result, following an impressive goalless draw away to South Africa in the last round.

Libya's team is primarily built around local-based players, ensuring a greater familiarity and synergy among the squad in comparison to the predominantly foreign-based Nigeria team.

Despite not boasting a household name, Libya are well organised and have proved this in recent draws against South Africa and Tunisia.

The glaring worry of the absence of a reliable goalscorer within the Super Eagles' rank is only made more difficult by the availability of experienced goalkeeper Muhammad Nashnoush from Al-Ahli and Raja Casablanca's rock-solid defender Sand Masaud.

The Eagles must avoid a laid-back start to the game, and they must dominate possession in the midfield with their creative players, both in the middle and wide areas, while also keeping maximum concentration at the back to shut out the towering Anis Saltou, a hardworking predator.

If the Super Eagles fail to make home advantage count for a second successive game, due to a combination of complacency and a lackadaisical attitude - factors which largely contributed to defeat against South Africa - Nigeria may find themselves facing an uphill struggle to reach Cameroon.

The West African giants need a win in Uyo if they're to move into the top two places at the conclusion of matchday three.

However, even without a coach, Libya are more than capable of spoiling the Eagles' party on home soil.

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