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Football enthusiasts hail Eagles in spite of 0 -1 loss to Cote d’Ivoire


ABUJA – Football enthusiasts on Monday in Abuja expressed satisfaction with the home-based Eagles, in spite of their 0 -1 loss to the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire in an international friendly.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Cote d’Ivoire beat African champions Nigeria 1-0 in Abu Dhabi on Sunday night, an 84th minute by Salomon Kalou.
A cross-section of football enthusiasts who spoke to NAN noted that the home-based Eagles gave a good account of themselves against a star-studded Ivorian side.
Tunde Popoola, the Secretary-General of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) said: “Though the[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”8″]
Elephants attacked more in the game, but they were unable to pass through the equally impressive [pro_ad_display_adzone id=”10″]Super Eagles side.
“The Ivorians fielded a majority of their stars, with African Footballer of the Year Yaya Toure getting a[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”10″] good match in the fearless Joseph Nathaniel in the midfield for the Eagles.’’
Popoola said the game’s result would have been a little bit different if Gambo Mohammed had converted from close range in one of the opening exchanges of the match.
“But that’s football for you and I cannot fault the lads, because they played very well and didn’t deserve to lose the game,” he said.
Emmanuel Babayaro, an ex-international, said he was impressed with the team’s performance, adding[pro_ad_display_adzone id=”10″] that he was happy that the boys communicated well and played as a team.
“The team deserves to be commended for holding their own against a more experienced Ivorian side.
“I can say they have indeed won support from football fans who hitherto expressed disappointment over the Super Eagles’ performance, especially during the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers,” he said.
Godwin Bamigboye, the FCT Chapter Chairman of Nigeria Football Coaches Association (NFCA), said the Eagles showed class with their performance.
“Although the home-based Eagles played against a superior team, they showed that they were no pushovers,’’ he said.
Bamigboye listed some players he said were outstanding in the match, and urged the team’s stand-in head coach, Daniel Amokachi, to
consider turning them into full-fledged Super Eagles members.
“I think Steven Ukoh, the former Swiss junior international who made his international debut for the team as a second half substitute, was solid and impressive.
“He indeed showed some character and maturity in the midfield and added value to the match after he entered the pitch.
“Nathaniel also showed quality and held his own against the likes of Toure, and I think both players deserve to be part of the Super Eagles main squad.
“Also, goalkeeper Chigozie Agbim was good, even though he conceded a late goal, and he showed a lot of improvement and sharp reflexes.
“Some of his lovely saves stopped the Ivorians from taking an early lead, and the scoreline could have been worse,” he said.
Coach Zibiri Brown of Prisons FC of Abuja, in his own contribution, said the team played well beyond his expectations.
“The Nigerian team could have even gone ahead to win the match if they were more clinical in front of goal.
“I must confess that the boys surprised me on Sunday. I didn’t give them a chance against Cote d’ Ivoire.
“If only Emem Uduok had been included in this squad, I am sure the Ivorian defenders would have had their hands full.
“However, I am not taking anything away from the likes of Mfon Udoh and Mohammed. They all performed well.
“I have confidence that the Eagles can perform better and win their next game against Sudan, as every player will be looking to impress the coaches.
“Each of the players showed that they were ready to represent Nigeria and deserve to be part and parcel of the main squad,” he said.
NAN reports that the home-based Eagles will take on Sudan on Jan. 17 in another friendly. (NAN)

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