By Solomon Nwoke
FORMER Technical Director of the then Nigeria Football Association (NFA), Chief Kashimawo Laloko has absolved goalkeeper, Ikechukwu Ezenwa of any blames in the team’s 4-1 drubbing by the Black Stars in the West Africa Football Union (WAFU) Cup final, saying the team lost due to inexperience, but urged them to build on the experience gained from the tournament.
Speaking to Sports Vanguard, Coach Laloko, who is the Director of the Pepsi Football Academy rather blamed the Eagles loss on the inexperience of the team’s coach saying that the team was swept off by the euphoria from their victory over the Black Stars in their group match which they won 2-0.
“What happened was due to inexperience on the side of the Eagles coach in the sense that when Nigeria beat Ghana 2-0, Ghana wanted to test the ground and the strength of the Eagles. They ( Black Stars) wanted to know what Nigeria looked like.
“We shouldn’t have thought that we would beat them in their home again. We should have prepared as if we are playing against 13 people, that is the 11 players plus the two referees. It was a good day for the Ghanaians and you don’t expect a home team to fold their arms. However, I believe we have learnt our lessons”, he said
Coach Laloko, who was a former coach of Stationery Stores FC wondered why the Nigeria Football Federation’s Technical Director was not taken along for the tournament arguing that the final match showed the character of the Eagles team B.
He said, “Salisu Yusuf is a good coach, but he needs some experience and he has to learn a lot. The technical director of the team was left behind and how can that be. That’s not fair to the man who should have contributed something to the team.
“No doubt Ezenwa was affected by the goals, the defence was not good enough and there was nothing much he could have done. I’m very sure he’ll pick up and will not be totally demoralised when Nigeria face Zambia in the 2018 World Cup qualifier next month in Uyo. Having seen what happened to our defence, the Super Eagles handlers have to beef up the defence. Ezenwa is a good goalkeeper, the 4-1 loss cannot stop him from doing well in our match against Zambia. The Zambians, no doubt are a good side, but they are just making noise. After all we beat them in their home and I don’t see them posing any threat to us here either. We are playing at home, so 70 percent of the match has already been won unless we are careless. The remaining 30 percent is the surprise package kept for them. So Nigerians shouldn’t lose their sleep”, he concluded.