By Jacob Ajom
Former Super Eagles goalkeeper and captain, Peter Rufai has made a passionate appeal to Nigerian coaches and ex internationals to lend a helping hand to coach Samson Siasia as he prepares the team for the crucial Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Ethiopia in Abuja next week.
“Siasia is still building his team, so it will be difficult to say this or that department of the team that should be looked into. He is building a new team. We still do not know who he would feature in the match because the Sierra Leone friendly was not enough to assess the players.”
Rufai advised fans not to boo the team when they face Ethiopia.
The former international said although booing had been an integral aspect of Nigerian football, the present crop of players in the national team did not grow up in that culture.
“In the days of Okala, Chukwu, Odegbami and when we took over, fans booed us when they perceived we were not doing what was expected of us. We did not see it as a wish for us to lose matches; rather it was a clarion call for us to do the right thing,” Rufai said.
Adding, “as players we would say to ourselves, ‘common, we have to take our game to the next level’ and often we come out better at the end of the day.”
He however, appealed to fans to support the present Eagles. He said, “let us support them throughout the duration of the match instead of booing them, no matter what.
Some of them will be playing their first competitive match in Nigeria colours for the first time . This is the only national team we have.”
Rufai said he did not see much wrong in a player getting multiple invitations from two different national team coaches, particularly if the time between matches allow gives the player room to adjust.
“It is good for the player if the club he plays for can give him the opportunity to answer the calls. There is nothing wrong with a player featuring for both the Super Eagles and the Olympic team. But there should be good coordination among the coaches over such players.”