Lagos – As Nigerians rue the country’s ouster from the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) on Friday, soccer buffs have expressed disappointment and advised football administrators to be serious with preparations for major tournaments.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Super Eagles lost 0-1 to Egypt in the second leg of the qualifiers after they had drawn 1-1 in Kaduna, Nigeria.
The development makes it a second consecutive time that Nigeria will not qualify for the tournament in four years after they won the 2013 edition.
The ex-players said that the team played well and urged the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to take decisions that would salvage the shameful situation.
Christian Chukwu, Captain of the 1980 Nations Cup winning team, Green Eagles, told NAN that the boys played their best but did not convert scoring chance to goals.
Nigeria hosted the 12th edition in Lagos and won its first beating Algeria in the final 3−0.
“The team lacked the zeal to score goals in the early hours in the match.
“We played good enough, but we did not strike our opponents’ net early not until we were one goal down.
“The boys should have strategised on how to score early in the second half, but instead they held on to the ball.
“I still give kudos to the coach for a good job,’’ he said.
Former Assistant Super Eagles handler, Joe Erico, also told NAN that “the NFF should be serious with preparations and take decisions that would salvage the shameful situation that has befallen the team in recent times.
“It is sad that we lost and are out of the competition in the qualifying series for the second consecutive time even with the quality of players that we can boast of.
“This I believe is as a result of poor preparations and lack of seriousness by the football administrators; they just have to get back to the drawing board and get the right decisions for future purposes.
“I hope this loss will teach them a big lesson,’’ Erico said.
Friday Ekpo, an ex-international, said that the boys played a good game though wasted time to score early.
“For me, it was a fair game only that they failed to make it to their opponents net early before they got to ours.
“When they scored, it dawned on the Super Eagles that they needed to wake up from their deep slumber.
“The handlers came in briefly to take charge of the affairs, I’m sure if they had been in charge since, it would have been a different story but I must commend their efforts.
“I will suggest that the NFF should leave the handlers to continue coaching the team and watch to see results before taking the next step,’’ he said.
Ekpo told NAN that it was a pity that Nigeria would not feature in the Nations Cup for the second time.
DCP Anderson Bankole, said that if they had played the way they did in the second half Nigeria would have qualified.
Bankole lamented that the Eagles had played woefully in the first half.
“There was mo coordination among them in the first half. I want to believe that the pep talk during the break spurred them to intensify efforts in the second half.
“I am not satisfied with today’s match and it’s obvious that the best team won,’’ he said.
A banker, Idris Fadugba, blamed the loss on leadership of problems in the football house and lack of adequate preparations.
According to him, the leadership of the NFF should put its house in order to create a level playing ground for the development of football.
“It is not a time to lick our wounds, but it is important for us to use our defeat to find out why we didn’t get the best out of the players that we paraded.
“We have seen how our federation won’t keep off from directing the daily affairs of the national team because of reasons no one can understand,’’ he said.
Jerry Olanipeku, a second year engineering student at Lagos State Polytechnic, said that the game was not a bad one in spite of the loss.
“The Eagles gave their best but unfortunately the game didn’t go as we all wanted it. (NAN)