October 13, 2013

Apart from Emenike, Super Eagles do not have prolific strikers – fans

Apart from Emenike, Super Eagles do not have prolific strikers – fans

BATTLE……Emmanuel Emenike (left) of Nigeria battles for the ball with Ethiopia’s Biyadiglign Elyas during a match at AFCON 2013

Abuja – Football fans in the FCT celebrated in style on Sunday the Super Eagles’ 2-1 victory over Ethiopia’s Walya Antelopes in Addis Ababa in a 2014 FIFA World Cup Qualifier.

Emmanuel Emenike’s brace in the 68th and 90th minutes gave the Nigerian side victory.

The goals came after Behailu Assefa had opened scoring for the hosts in the 57th minute.

The match played at the Addis Ababa National Stadium was the first leg tie in the final round of the African zone elimination series.

BATTLE......Emmanuel Emenike (left) of Nigeria battles  for the ball with Ethiopia’s  Biyadiglign Elyas  during a match at AFCON 2013

BATTLE……Emmanuel Emenike (left) of Nigeria battles for the ball with Ethiopia’s Biyadiglign Elyas during a match at AFCON 2013

However, many Nigerian fans had ahead of the match thronged the popular football viewing centres with vuvuzelas.

The instrument had been made popular by South Africans at the 2010 World Cup they hosted.

A correspondent who monitored the centres reported that those visited were filled to capacity as the fans celebrated the victory.

A viewing centre operator at Boulevard Garden in Maitama, Vincent Obike, said the match’s intensity made Eagles’ coach Stephen Keshi a worried man for a major part of the game.

“But he will be very pleased, especially as the weather and altitude in Ethiopia didn’t really affect the performance of the boys in any way.

“However, we thank God for this hard-earned victory, because we are now almost certain of qualification for the World Cup.

“But in fairness, we must also give credit to the Ethiopians, knowing that they haven’t come this far before. They will hopefully build on this feat in future,” he said.

One of the fans, Mr John Etim, a student, said while the Eagles lost a lot of scoring chances, they were the better side, compared to the Walya Antelopes.

“I thank God for giving us victory against Ethiopia today and I must say the game was very interesting. We deserve to be in Brazil, because Nigeria is the giant of Africa.

“In the beginning though, Nigeria never looked like winning this game. But at the end, the Eagles won,’’ he said.

Etim, however, advised Keshi to look for a prolific striker to complement Emmanuel Emenike upfront in the future.

“Apart from Emenike, Nigerians do not have a prolific striker that can create and take chances.

“I love the way the Super Eagles played their passing game and built from the back slowly, before attacking with a great speed,’’ he said.

Some fans at City Park in Wuse II also expressed joy at the match’s outcome.

“I am so excited, and we thank God the Ethiopians didn’t take all the scoring chances that came their way.

“If they had done, we would not have been celebrating and jubilating like this,” George Okore, a businessman, said.

Taiwo Sewuese, a clergyman said the team’s victory showed the stuff Nigerians were made of.

“It is a sign that no obstacle is too much for Nigerians to surmount. It shows the Nigerian spirit, which is full of resilience.

“It shows that we can bounce back from any situation that is adverse, and if we come together and work as a people, there is nothing this nation cannot overcome.

“This is to teach Nigerians to have confidence in themselves and in this great nation, and that the future is bright for Nigeria,’’ Sewuese said.

At another viewing centre known as “Nook” and located in Wuse Zone 5, a businessman, Mr Sylvester Cletus, declared free drinks and plates of pepper soup for all football fans at the centre.

Cletus said that the Super Eagles’ victory had made his day.

“I came to watch this match with a heavy heart, after I was duped by a business partner.

“However, Super Eagles’ victory today has lightened my mood and I feel on top of the world now,” he said.

A similar scenario played itself out at the Games Village in Abuja, where the owner of a beer parlour in the neighbourhood declared a bonanza.

He gave out a free bottle of beer for every two bought.

“The Eagles have shown to the world that good things can still come out of Nigeria,’’ Jerry Tilley-Gyado, the beer parlour owner, said.

“Words can’t express the depth of my joy, because those that had written Nigeria off in African football have been proved wrong.

“We are on our way to Brazil by the grace of God,” he said.

Richard Omatiga, a football enthusiast said Nigeria had found its rhythm in football with the victory.

“What we saw this (Sunday) afternoon is almost like the Super Eagles of 1994 – disciplined, pacy, determined and focused.

“This win has put the World Cup ticket beyond the Walya Antelopes, even before the second leg game,” he added.

The victory has pushed the Eagles closer to a fifth appearance at the World Cup.

The second leg game of the qualifier holds at the U.J. Esuene Stadium in Calabar on Nov. 16. (NAN)