…says some players are good backups for Russia 2018 Eagles
Former Super Eagles coach, Christian Chukwu, has come to the defence of the local Eagles squad that finished second in the just concluded Africa Nations Championship, saying the team deserves commendation for reaching the final of the competition in Morocco.
He added that he’s aware that some soccer fans are not happy with the 4-0 scandalous defeat they suffered in the hands of the hosts of the competition, but advised that the team needed to be fortified with other good players to enable the squad to be potent in future.
“The CHAN Eagles did their best for at least getting to the final of that competition. It was not an easy feat going by the standard of opposition Eagles met during the tourney.
“I’m also aware most people are not happy with the outcome of the final game against Morocco, but that’s football for you. Going forward, the technical crew just need to look inwards once again, to the Nigeria Professional League to fish out more talented players who will come and fortify the team in those areas they are deficient.
“We have very good players in the League and I think they deserve to be given a chance to wear the national colours,” he said.
On the chances of some of the players breaking into the Russia 2018 World Cup-bound Eagles, Chukwu thumbed up the heroics of goalkeeper Dele Ajiboye.
“I want to commend Dele Ajiboye who stood in-between the sticks against Sudan. When Ezenwa got injured, he was not missed as such because Ajiboye came in and gave a good account of himself. And come to think of it, if you pitch the home-based Eagles against their foreign-based counterparts today, you will see that the CHAN Eagles will give them a good fight. I feel Ajiboye and others who did well for Nigeria at CHAN can be good backups for Russia 2018-bound Eagles,” Chukwu stated.
Lending his support to Chukwu’s clarion call for Nigerians to accept the team’s second place finish as a good result, despite losing 0-4 to hosts-Morocco in the final of the 2018 edition of the African Nations Championship, the Minister of Youth and Sport, Mr. Solomon Dalung said the CHAN Eagles recorded another ‘first’ in Nigeria’s football history.
He then urged Nigerians to take the positives away from the CHAN Super Eagles’ second best performance in Casablanca, Morocco.
Dalung, who was in Morocco to lend his support to the team and cheer them to victory, said the team recorded its best-ever outing at the competition, with their silver-medal winning feat.
“Coming for this tournament, many Nigerians never gave the team a chance because of the way they prepared and their pessimism about the players in the Nigerian Professional Football League. But getting to the finals against all odds, the players proved many critics wrong about the standard of the NPFL which can only get better,” Dalung said.
The Minister lamented the expulsion of Peter Eneji very early in the second half after his second yellow card which played a major role in the final outcome of the game, played in a gutsy windy and wet weather.
“It was obvious that our boys were struggling with the weather which was made worse when they were reduced to 10 men. Many of them had not been exposed to such harsh weather conditions, before while playing in the NPFL. Experiencing such extreme cold weather really hampered their output during the competition.”
However, Dalung enjoined Nigerians to see the team as a work in progress if the vision driving the current League Management Company running the Nigerian league can be sustained.
“The role of better preparation for a tournament cannot be over emphasised. Going by the way the Moroccans played against the Super Eagles, it was evident that they were ready for this and had prepared long enough.
“Our attention must now shift to better preparations for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Mr. President has not minced words about his expectation for the World Cup. We are not going there as mere spectators but as contenders. We are going there to make a very bold statement.”
Dalung also praised the Confederation of African Football for raising the bar of the competition which has continued to showcase hidden and raw talents on the African continent.
Meanwhile, ahead of Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup, Chukwu has called on the technical crew of the Super Eagles to utilise the FIFA windows well, by organising Grade ‘A’ international friendlies for the team and have an early camping for the squad to enable them blend effectively. He believes with a good programme for the team, Eagles will deliver at the Mundial in Russia.