By Victor Okoye
Abuja – Former President Goodluck Jonathan has congratulated the Super Eagles of Nigeria afer qualifying for the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Nigeria became the first African nation to book a spot at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia after a 1-0 win over Zambia on Sunday in Uyo.
Arsenal forward Alex Iwobi scored the winner as Gernot Rohr’s side qualified for a record sixth World Cup appearance.
In a tweet via his official Twitter handle, Jonathan applauded the fighting spirit of the Eagles, saying the team exemplified the “can do Nigerian spirit”.
“I am not surprised that you have qualified. Thank you @NGSuperEagles. You exemplify the can do Nigerian spirit,” he tweeted.
A cross section of football enthusiasts who spoke to NAN in separate interviews also applauded the team’s performance against the Chipolopolo.
Tunde Popoola, Secretary General of the Nigeria Olympics Committee (NOC) congratulated the Eagles, adding that their victory demonstrates how great Nigeria is in diversity.
“The Super Eagles continue to make us all proud and demonstrate the greatness in our diversity.
“Congratulations to all Nigerians. We can truly achieve great things when we come together,” he said.
Godwin Bamigboye, Chairman, Nigeria Football Coaches Association, FCT Chapter on his part heaped praise on Coach Gernot Rohr for the crucial role he played in qualifying the team for the World Cup.
“Alot of eyebrows were raised when the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) appointed Rohr as the head coach of the Super Eagles.
“Well, look who has taken the team to next year’s World Cup.
“The German coach has shown tactical acumen, leading the Super Eagles through the qualifying campaign without defeat so far and making fans believe in the team again.
“He again displayed excellent tactical and technical prowess through his vital substitutions in the match against Zambia.
“The introduction of Arsenal’s Iwobi injected pace into the Eagles’ attack as the Zambians found it hard to cope with Iwobi’s runs from the right wing.
“Mikel Agu also brought calm and stability to the Eagles’ midfield.
“That’s the difference! Football has gone scientific and it takes a sophisticated coach to find the winning formula when the chips are down,” he said.
Emmanuel Babayaro, an ex-international praised the Eagles for the hard-fought victory, adding that the Zambians were a difficult nut to crack.
“Congratulations to the boys and technical crew for the hard-fought victory. This has to stand out as one of the toughest games played in the qualifier so far.
“They might have been defeated, but hats off to the Chipolopolo for coming this far with their young and fearless squad.
“Coach Nyirenda’s boys caused Nigeria alot of trouble on Saturday, after beating Algeria home and away in the last round of matches.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if they qualify for the next World Cup,” he said.
Nduka Ugbade, also an ex-international and former Assistant Coach of the Flying Eagles hailed the Eagles for picking up the World Cup ticket, adding that it wasn’t ‘a walk in the park’ for the Eagles.
He, however, urged the NFF to begin preparations for the World Cup immediately to ensure that the team also have a successful campaign in Russia 2018.
“Kudos to the Eagles for making us proud to have worn the green white green colour.
“Zambia proved to all, including the watching NFF officials, that every game will not always be a walk in the park.
“It is not too early to start preparing hard for the World Cup as June is around the corner.
“Rohr has to look at the left-back spot where every wide man seems to get the beating of Elderson Echiejile and see if Ola Aina can step up to the challenge.
“Also, a decent back-up for Odion Ighalo is needed as well as an upgrade on Onazi too,” Ugbade said.
With one more match to play, Nigeria are on top of Group B with 13 points and have thus qualified for the World Cup as group winners.
Zambia, African champions Cameroon and Algeria with seven, six and one point respectively have all crashed out of Russia 2018.