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AFCON: Football enthusiasts blast Eagles, say they didn’t play as if it was knockout phase

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Some football enthusiasts in Ilorin said on Monday that the Super Eagles deserved no place in the final match of the 2019 AFCON due to what they considered as their lacklustre performance.

File: Nigeria’s forward Alex Iwobi (C) celebrates his goal with teammates during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) Round of 16 football match between Nigeria and Cameroon at the Alexandria Stadium in the Egyptian city on July 6, 2019. 

They expressed dissatisfaction at the Super Eagles’ 1-2 loss to the Desert Foxes of Algeria in the semi-final played on Sunday.

Some of them, who spoke with newsmen in Ilorin, said the better team won the semi-final match.

They said if Nigeria had won the match, it would be a hard luck against the Algerian side as the North Africans played better football.

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Mr Fatai Alao said Nigeria was outclassed by a better team and was even unable to utilise the lifeline gotten through the penalty awarded to the team.

“If the result had been otherwise, it would have been a great injustice to the North African side.

“They didn’t play the match as if it was the knockout phase, they didn’t just get it right,’’ Alao said.

Another respondent, Mr Femi Philips, said it was not a shame to lose to a better side, arguing, however, that Nigeria could have done better.

“It will be better if we lost gallantly, nobody will blame them, but we lost as a result of carefree attitude.

“They were too careless with the ball and they played below the expectations of Nigerians.

“Everyone expected them to put up a good fight like they did against the South Africans and they didn’t,’’ Philips said.

Miss Tola Shona, on her part, said the players should just step up their game in the third place match to console Nigerians.

“The only thing they can do for Nigerians now is to step up their game against Tunisia for the bronze.

“But if they play the third place match like they played the semifinal match, I am afraid we will come back home medal-less,’’ Shona said.

A respondent, Mohammed Isa, blamed Super Eagles goalkeeper, Daniel Akpeyi, and the team’s defence for the loss.

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He said the midfield was also porous which made the Algerians had their way to Nigeria’s forward line.

“How does a goalkeeper build a wall during a free-kick and stand behind the wall for the kick to be taken?

“Also, our defenders do not have confidence in themselves, they just didn’t coordinate themselves,’’ Isa said.

Nigeria would take on 2004 champions Tunisia in the third place match at the Al Salam Stadium on Wednesday while Algeria would take on Senegal in Friday’s final at the Cairo International Stadium.

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