BY JACOB AJOM
Former Eagles captain, Peter Rufai has since after retirement established a football academy where he imparts some of his rich experiences in the game to the kids. Rufai’s love for teaching knows no bounds as he believes only a sound foundation can give rise to a sound football culture.
The former Super Stores safe hands said the Flying Eagles did not deserve the shock elimination by France from the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup tournament in Colombia.”Having gone that far, they deserved to stay in the competition. They were entertaining and we started seeing some semblances to Super Eagles of old,” Rufai said.
Although he was ecstatic about Flying Eagles’ overall performance, Rufai was livid with anger when asked for comments on the team’s defeat to France.
“From the onset, the boys put up a good show. But I was disappointed that we played without considering the fact that we would be scrutinised by opposing teams. We forgot they would look at our areas of strengths and weaknesses. That was what France did. They read our game and cut off all our areas of strength which was the wings. Even when we came back to business we could not raise our game to the expected level because they succeeded in clipping our wings,” Rufai remarked.
He said because the Flying Eagles wing play was scuttled by the highly technical France team, too much pressure was made to bear on the Nigerian defence. “Our wingers could no longer operate.”
He said both the technical bench and the players should share the blame for the defeat
The former Nigeria number one goal keeper faulted John Obuh’s ability to read opponents. “At this stage of our football, we should be able to gather intelligence reports on other teams and make good use of such information. That is where I think the technical crew came short of.
As for the players, they allowed their opponents to destroy their game plan. I thought we were beginning to see the return to the Super Eagles of old where wing play held sway. But they played without purpose because the French players neutralised them.” Rufai said.