By Tony Ubani
NIGERIANS heaved a big sigh of relief yesterday when the Eagles breathed life into their game and soared into the last eight of the Orange African Cup of Nations in style. With an emphatic 3-0 pounding of Mozambique, the Eagles,Â vilified for their lack-lustreÂ performance in their previousgames, re-doubled their efforts and put a commanding show that got Nigerians talking about their chances.
And the brace of Nigeriaâ€™sÂ hero, Osaze Odemwingie, compensated him for his untiring efforts. Obafemi Martins also registered his name in the goal chart after coming in for Yakubu Aiyegbeni.
While Nigerians are celebrating the efforts of the Eagles, the players, too, are pocketing their N4.5 million each ( $30,000) for qualifying for the quarter-finals.
The biggest jackpot goes to coach Shiabu Amodu who pockets N9 million ($60,000).Â Amodu, who has come under severe knocks after losing 3-1 to Egypt in the first game and a colourless 1-0 over Benin, appeared less tensed yesterday.
Apparently emulating gum-chewing Manchester United Manager, Alex Ferguson, Amodu chewed away as the Eagles ran-riot, bringing temporary relief to him. Before now, Amoduâ€™s job was uncertain as there were conflicting reports that he had been sacked in Nigeria by Government.
But, NFF officials who had vowed to swim or sink with him protested that he was still in charge. Whether the hammer falls on Amodu or not, the coach who hitherto got a Jeep gift for qualifying Nigeria for the World Cup would be proud that his â€˜labour has not been in vainâ€™.