Birnin Kebb – Many football lovers in Birnin Kebbi and Awka celebrated the Super Eagles’ 2-1 defeat of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa on Sunday with a call for an improvement in the team’s performance.
The Nigerian side beat the Walya Antelopes at the Addis Ababa National Stadium with two second half goals from Emmanuel Emenike.
The match was the first leg game of their 2014 FIFA World Cup Final Elimination Round fixture.
Ladan Usman, the Kebbi State Director of Sports, said that while the result was good, the Nigerian side still needed to improve upon their game.
“While the overall encounter favoured the Super Eagles, the team handlers still need to do better to ensure the team reduces the tension it creates for its fans during matches,’’ he said.
Usman said the Eagles were over-cautious from the beginning of the game.
“Since the Ethiopians are a team our Eagles were confident of beating, taking an early lead would have avoided putting Nigerian fans in a state of agitation.
“Perhaps the team needed to train together, and even more before major competitions,’’ he said.
A football fan, El-Yakub Dabai, said the victory over Ethiopia was pleasing, but advised the team’s handlers to change their strategy.
“This will be by ensuring the team gives all it has from the first blast of the whistle,’’ he said.
Another fan, Reuben Ubani, said the Nigerian players allowed their hosts to dictate the pace of the game.
“They succumbed to the antics of their rivals who played to the gallery.
“But in the future, our team must show determination to take the lead from the beginning of the game,’’ he said.
Ubani said many Super Eagles’ fans would be expecting a new approach during the second leg game in Calabar on Nov. 16.
“We expect the Super Eagles to show the world they are the African champions and that they are a team capable of performing well in Brazil in 2014.
“Perhaps the team was intimidated or the referee was not perfect enough for them, but we will expect a better performance in the second leg,’’ he added.
Also football fans and administrators in Awka on Sunday hailed the victory of the Super Eagles over the Ethiopia national team in their 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifier in Addis Ababa.
They spoke in separate interviews immediately after the Nigerian senior men football side defeated their hosts 2-1.
Harrison Okagbue, a former coach of the Ugandan national side, said the Super Eagles gave a good account of themselves as they were able to withstand the strong Ethiopians.
Okagbue however faulted the Eagles technical crew’s decision to employ space marking in the team’s defensive approach, saying “contact marking’’ would have been a better approach.
“I like what happened today. The match was alright, and we got the win which we most desire,’’ he said.
The coach however advised that the team’s handlers should prepare the players better for the Ethiopians.
“In our next match, we have to check their (the Walya Antelopes) energy by not giving them space to operate.
“If we employ contact marking, their power will reduce and our victory in Nigeria will be assured.
“However, I congratulate them (the Eagles) for doing us proud,’’ he said.
Victor Nwangu, a Match Commissioner with the Nigerian Football Association (NFA), said the ability to come from behind to clinch victory on away ground showed the team’s character and discipline.
He said while there were some questionable refereeing decisions during the match, the Nigerian players’ determination gave them victory.
Former national team goalkeeper, Emmanuel Okala, in his reaction said the result was a product of good preparation.
“It was a great match, and I saw it coming because they prepared well. The weather conditions did not affect them so much, as they are a good side.
“However, in their next match, coach Stephen Keshi should bring out the best boys in the team and seal victory in Calabar,’’ he said.(NAN)