Abuja – A cross-section of football enthusiasts across the country have expressed mixed reactions to Saturday’s 2-3 loss by the Super Eagles in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers.
The Eagles lost to the Red Devils of Congo at the U.J. Esuene Stadium in Calabar in their opening Group A match.
While some of them expressed disappointment at the result, others expressed optimism in the ability of the Super Eagles to bounce back from the defeat.
A good number of them however said the players should show more commitment in their next game, insisting that part of the problem was that the players were not focused.
Joe Erico, a former Super Eagles’ Assistant Coach, said the team should not underrate any other team, adding that this could have been a reason for their defeat by Congo.
“The team played well, and the loss was just a goal margin. But I believe they can play better and show more determination.
“I guess part of the reason for the loss was the fact that the boys were not focused, in view of the power tussle in the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) Glass house,’’ he said.
Erico said with teamwork, the team would rise up to the occasion and would get back on its feet.
“I believe that there is still room for improvement. I think it is not over yet, the boys just have to believe in themselves with defensive solidarity and teamwork,” he said.
Festus Allen, a former coach of 3SC Football Club of Ibadan, described the 2-3 loss as disappointing, and urged the team to step up its game in the next qualifying match.
“The team did not play to my expectations, because I was expecting the team to grab the three points at stake.
“But the only way the players can erase this memory from our minds is to step up their game in the next match and do the needful,’’ he said.
For Babatunde Adegboyega, a businessman, it was however a very shameful performance, saying “the God of Nigerian soccer has turned his back on us due to the confusion at the Glass House.
“We now have a tall and slippery mountain to climb as far as qualifying for AFCON 2015 is concerned,’’ he said.
Ahmed Usman, a banker, blamed it all on goalscoring, saying “Super Eagles problems remains the same, and that is being goal-shy as always.’’
Sarah Kwagdoo, a medical doctor, blamed the team’s showing on lack of fitness on the players’ part, saying a majority of the players were not physically fit.
“What a shame! But what do you expect from players who are not regular in their clubs.
“Most of them were very heavy and found it hard to run on the pitch,” she said.
But Nelson Tsee, an Abuja-based football enthusiast, still believed the Super Eagles could bounce back, even as he acknowledged that Saturday’s loss was a disappointing result.
“I recall that we failed against Iran in our opening match at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. However, the boys woke up thereafter.
“Our chances are still bright, bearing in mind that there are still 15 more possible points to pick up from the remaining five matches to be played.
Another football enthusiast in Abuja, Femi Bamigbola, said the blame for the result should not be heaped on Head Coach Stephen Keshi or the team but rather the NFA.
“We can’t blame coach Keshi or the team. But we should blame the NFA which made us to lose the game,’’ he said.
Ernest Frank, a building consultant, was however optimistic that the Super Eagles would qualify from their group.
“All the team need to do now is to go back to the drawing board and find out where it all went wrong for it and try to correct the lapses before the next game.
“But, I will like to use this opportunity to call on the NFA to settle all their individual differences and get our football house back on its feet.
“This is because as these their bickerings also has its part to play on the team’s performance,’’ he said.
NAN reports that following the opening round of matches, South Africa which beat Sudan 3-0 away on Friday moved to the top of Group A with three points.
They lead Congo Brazzaville who also have three points but a +1 goal difference, as against South Africa who have a +3 goal difference.
Nigeria lie third with no point and a -1 goal difference, while Sudan are at the bottom of the group with no point and a -3 goal difference.
The Super Eagles will now face hosts South Africa on Wednesday at Cape Town on Wednesday, while Congo will host Sudan same day.