By John Egbokhan
Former Nigerian goalkeeper, Peter Rufai, has said that the Super Eagles can only be their worst enemies in the race to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
After missing out on a place in the last edition of soccerâ€™s most glamorous tournament, Nigeria are desperate to avoid a rehash of the 2006 experience and with three matches left to play in the final qualifying phase, the west Africans find themselves playing catch-up on Tunisia, who have a two-point advantage over the Super Eagles, with the same matches to play.
Speaking with reporters at the Teslim Balogun stadium on Saturday, Rufai, a 1994 World Cup campaigner, tasked the technical crew of the Super Eagles to rate the players invited to camp for the three remaining matches to forestall any setback.
â€œWhen drew against Mozambique, I was shocked and felt that we had blown our chance to be at the World Cup but all that changed when we held Tunisia to a draw in Tunis and that was a good result considering that we were playing away against our fierce rivals for the qualifying slot to the 2010 World Cup.
â€œWhat I learnt from the first two matches was that our players did not take Mozambique as serious opponents and that allowed for complacency and late arrival for camping and we saw the result of that decision.
â€œBut in the two subsequent games, the technical crew, adopted a stricter rule and players had to start fighting for shirts and that made the team determined and the results came. It is this spirit that must be maintained.
â€œOur qualification for the World Cup is going to depend on the ratings that our players get when they play for their clubs and how early they come to camp and how well they play with each other, for the benefit of the team.
â€œThe advantage is in our direction and we can only be our own worst enemies when we do not field players according to acceptable ratings garnered as we enter into this crucial stage of our soccer ambitionâ€, said Rufai.