BY JACOB AJOM
For the uninitiated, there was very little to chose between the Flying Eagles of Nigeria and their French counterparts Sunday night when they clashed in the quarterfinal of the 2011 FIFA U-20 World Cup in Colombia.
The parity between the two teams clearly manifested in Nigeria’s last gasp equaliser that dragged the match into extra-time. But that was how far the Nigerians could salvage their image as the French lads exhibited grit and mental capacity that gave them the cutting edge.
Veteran football coach, Joe Erico said the John Obuh tutored team should not be crucified after what he termed as “their impressive run in the tournament.” Erico who was all praise for the Flying Eagles said, “The boys did their best. It was a matter of when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. I was impressed because they played very well.”
Erico explained what he meant. “When I said, the tough gets going I mean under such circumstances, only the physically and mentally tough pass the test. Our boys brought their physical presence to bear on the match but the French players were mentally superior, that is why they were able to overcome the Nigerian players.”
Despite the defeat, Erico said Coach John Obuh and his players had nothing to be ashamed of. “I am not one of those coaches who after losing a match, he comes to say I am sorry. In a match you either win or lose. I don’t think Obuh owes anybody any apology. But he might think differently. I can’t speak for him,” Erico said.
The former Nigeria international advised football enthusiasts in the country to take the Flying Eagles defeat in good faith. “In two years, there will be another tournament. If we take this too badly, we may not even make it there again,” he concluded.