November 11, 2017

World Cup qualifiers: Football enthusiasts hail Eagles’ unbeaten run

World Cup qualifiers: Football enthusiasts hail Eagles’ unbeaten run

Super Eagles players celebrating the goal scored by John Ogu in their final world cup qualifying match against Algeria in Constantine, Algeria. The match ended 1-1. Photo credit: thenffofficial l(IG)

Some football enthusiasts on Saturday hailed the Super Eagles after the team played out 1-1 draw against the Fennecs of Algeria to finish their 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign unbeaten.

Super Eagles players celebrating the goal scored by John Ogu in their final world cup qualifying match against Algeria in Constantine, Algeria. The match ended 1-1. Photo credit: thenffofficial l(IG)

John Ogu, hammered home a left footed strike in the 63rd minute, taking advantage of a poor defensive clearance, to give Nigeria the lead after 63 minutes.

But Algeria were handed a soft penalty kick which Yacine Brahimi converted with two minutes to go.

The result meant that Nigeria remained unbeaten in 36 FIFA World Cup games on the bounce since a 0-1 loss to Angola in June, 2004.

A cross section of football enthusiasts who spoke noted that though the Super Eagles had already secured the Russia 2018 World Cup ticket, finishing their campaign unbeaten was very impressive.

Tunde Popoola, the Secretary-General of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) said that he was always excited to see the Super Eagles playing so well, adding that finishing their campaign unbeaten was a thing of joy and pride.

“I love the Super Eagles from the very depth of my heart, especially when they give their all on the pitch like they did against the Algerians.

“Algeria have always been our greatest rivals and though we had qualified for the World Cup, we needed to ensure we did not lose to them, in order to prove a point that we are indeed the ‘Giants of Africa’ again,” he said.

Musa Talle, the Chairman, FCT Football Association said, “I am happy for this team. It was nice to see how good the guys were without the presence of players like Mikel Obi, Victor Moses and Odion Ighalo.

“It shows we have a pool of quality players for both the first team and reserve as well as back-ups.

“The result of today’s match is likely to impact positively on our ranking in Africa and consequently, influence what group we may likely be in at the World Cup.

“However, I consider it more important, to view this match as preparatory for the main event, the World Cup. Hence, it’s a good move that some new and unused legs were selected for the match.

“Though the pitch was awful, nevertheless, the Super Eagles were impressive.

“With a little more work, we should be able to compete favourably with the best team in the world come Russia 2018,” he said.

Emmanuel Babayaro, an ex-international observed that even though the team gave a good account of themselves, there is a lot of work to be done before the World Cup.

“It was a decent run out for the Eagles in preparation for the World Cup. I think John Ogu was brilliant and a perfect substitute for Mikel Obi. Abdullahi Shehu also did a good job and was very solid at right back.

“Our goal keeping department however needs to be addressed. Yes, Ezenwa made some brilliant saves but he had a rough night, especially when it came to dealing with the aerial balls.

“Having said that, I don’t think that makes him a terrible goalkeeper. He just needs to put in a little more work in training, especially in dead-ball situations.

“Ola Aina is a decent player but not suited for the left-back position. So I think the Super Eagles are still short in that position,” he said.

Nduka Ugbade, also an ex-international and former Flying Eagles Assistant Coach said he was impressed with the performances and flashes of brilliance exhibited by some of the newly introduced players.

“I noticed one big asset in Ola Aina today. He can use his right foot almost as equally as his natural left foot.

“He impressed me when he dribbled left and used his right foot to make a no-look back-heel pass while under pressure. Only a two legged footer can make such move.

“His delap-esque long throws is also a good asset to the team.

“Etebo impressed, while Balogun, Ekong, Ndidi and Ogu were solid. Onyekuru is also a promising lad. This team is indeed a work in progress,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mutiu Adepoju,Former Super Eagles Midfielder and LaLiga Ambassador took to his Twitter handle to also congratulate the team for the feat.

“The @FIFAWorldCup ticket is guaranteed but like Oliver Twist, I wanted our darling @NGSuperEagles to end the campaigns unbeaten and I am glad they did. Great game!” he wrote.

Some of the Super Eagles players also expressed joy on finishing their campaign unbeaten on their various Twitter handles.

Leon Balogun wrote: “Proud to have captained my country today and remain unbeaten at @FIFAWorldCup qualifiers.

“The road to Russia was an exciting and even more successful one. I dedicate this achievement to our team mate @Carl_Ikeme who started this journey with us. This one’s for you bro.

“Congrats to @Aina2Ola for making his full international debut. U did great brother. More to come #BallStoner.

“Also special congrats to @ogujohnugo who’s been waiting for his chance so patiently. You deserved every minute today and I’m happy u rewarded yourself with that goal.”

William Troost-Ekong said, “Unbeaten World Cup qualifying campaign! Real fight here in Algeria. Proud of the boys. Thanks for your support as always #Russia2018.”

“Unbeaten And Top Of The Group! Thanks For All Your Support During This Qualifying Campaign,” Alex Iwobi tweeted.

The Super Eagles will next travel to Krasnodar, the Russian city which will host Tuesday’s international friendly between Nigeria and Argentina.