Abakaliki – Football fans in Abakaliki have urged Nigerians to appreciate the Super Eagles 0-0 draw against Swaziland in a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier played on Friday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the match was played in Lobamba, Swaziland, and the return leg would be played in Port Harcourt on Tuesday.
In separate interviews with NAN on Saturday, the fans urged Nigerians to understand the challenges that confronted the team.
Sam Mgbada, immediate past Ebonyi Commissioner for Youths and Sports, noted that though the Eagles failed to meet the fans expectations, the draw was not a bad outcome.’.
“It was better to get the draw than losing, as there are no longer push-overs in football and other sports, especially in Africa.
“Un-fancied Comoros forced highly rated Ghana to a scoreless draw, South Africa beat Angola away from home, are some of the ‘shocking’ results recorded during the qualifiers,” he said.
Emmanuel Aleke, former member of Ebonyi House of Assembly and a soccer enthusiast, said that the Eagles played under some unfavourable conditions in Lobamba.
“The condition of the stadium’s pitch was appalling as most of the Eagles players play in Europe under excellent pitch conditions.,” he said.
Chidi Odimke, former Nitel Vasco Dagama FC of Enugu player, called on Coach Sunday Oliseh to make some changes in the qualifier’s return leg in Port Harcourt.
“Obafemi Martins and Kelechi Iheanacho should spear-head the attack instead of Sylvester Igboun and Odion Ighalo, as Iheanacho can provide the needed creativity lacking in the team.
“Oliseh should also field a mobile, home-based right full back, to replace the immobile Shehu Abdullalhi ; the the team should train for longer periods for necessary blending,” he said.
Dr Benson Eke, an Optician, urged fans to understand the team’s predicament of inadequate training periods before matche.
“These players reported to camp from their various bases in Europe and played the match without adequate training to achieve the needed cohesion,” he observed.
Miss Nneka Mmegwa, a student and soccer enthusiast, urged the Eagles not to be complacent in the return leg and avoid being anxious to score.
“The players should approach the match with all seriousness and avoid playing under pressure, to save the country the embarrassment of elimination as was the case in the past,” she said. (NAN)