Nigeria head coach Amodu Shaibu said Saturday evening that his players must be thoroughly focused on their 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifying match against the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia billed for Abuja on September 6. His lads came out of the â€˜Rades cauldronâ€™ with a valuable point from a 0-0 draw that could prove decisive for the campaign but the 50-year-old was not celebrating as he addressed them in the dressing room after the game.
â€œBoys, you have come out of here with a draw but I want you to know that it is not yet time for celebration. You must go back to your clubs and start reflecting hard on the fact that we must beat the Tunisians in Abuja, and know that we have not won that match until it is played.
â€œIt is not yet uhuru. We must have no illusions. Nigeria will qualify for the 2010 World Cup finals on the strength of this performance but the truth is that we are not there yetâ€.
Although they failed to get the win they craved, the Super Eagles dug their feet into the ground at the back and could as well have surprised the opposition on a couple of occasions in the second half.
Speaking further at the post â€“match conference, Amodu insisted that his team came from the point of caution and knew that a result would be got only if the players did not play fools.
â€œThis is a highâ€“profile match and there is a lot of history between both teams. If we had opened our rear anyhow, we could have conceded and then you start chasing the game. For us, the important thing is that we now have it in our hands and it is our own to crack all the wayâ€.
Every four years since 2002, Amodu has qualified Nigeria for the World Cup. After Johannes Bonfrere was sacked in 2001, he was installed and got the team to win all three final matches that could lead them to Korea/Japan 2002 at the expense of Liberia, and in 2006, he qualified the Beach soccer team for the FIFA World Cup in Brazil after a sterling debut at the continental championship in South Africa.
Itâ€™s another four years and Amodu looks to be heading to success once again. But he said: â€œWe must be focused and work very hard. It is in our hands but we should not get overconfident and in the process, fail to do the things that we should doâ€.
Amodu also called on his players to retain the â€˜one familyâ€™ spirit in camp even as they go back to their different clubs before the next game in September. â€œIt is important that we keep this spirit of unity and bond in everything that we do. Today, we showed that every player is important to the team and that any player can go in there and play and help the team achieve successâ€.
Nigeria play Tunisia inside the National Stadium, Abuja on September 6, 2009, in what should be a cracker of a game in the entire African race for the 2010 World Cup finals. The team received massive support from different stakeholders on Saturday, with the Presidential Task Force chartering an aircraft that conveyed its members, politicians, journalists, supporters and other stakeholders to Tunis. Officials of the Nigeria Embassy in Tunis were also very supportive of the Nigeria delegation.
Chairman of the Task Force, Governor Rotimi Amaechi, sports minister Sani Ndanusa, former Eaglesâ€™ skipper Jay Jay Okocha, Presidential spokesman Olusegun Adeniyi, Larry Izamoje, John Fashanu were members of the Task Force on the chartered flight. Senator Kuta and General Lawrence Onoja (rtd), chairman of the National Institute for Sports, were also in Tunis.