Nigeria vs South Africa: As the quarter-finals of the ongoing African Cup of Nations (AFCON) get underway, football fans in Nasarawa State have advised the Super Eagles to focus on their encounter against South Africa.
The fans said they should not be distracted by decisions made by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) which is to be used in the encounter.
They gave the advice when they spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lafia on Wednesday.
NAN reports that Nigeria take on South Africa in one of the two 2019 AFCON quarter-finals matches on Wednesday and VAR is expected to be used from this stage of the competition till the end.
VAR was introduced into football to review decisions made by the head referee with the use of video footage and a headset for communication.
But during the FIFA 2019 Women World Cup in France, VAR made some decisions deemed controversial which affected some teams, including Nigeria’s female team, the Super Falcons.
Eche Amos, Media Officer of the Nigeria Shooting Sport Federation (NSSF) warned that the Super Eagles should not be distracted or cowed by whatever decision made by VAR but concentrate fully on how to maximise their chances and win the game against South Africa.
“Players get jittery over the decision of VAR. I don’t want that to be the case for our boys. They should concentrate and not be distracted irrespective of what VAR decides. I am happy many of our players are already exposed to VAR.
“So it’s not new to them but it is important that they are not distracted by the VAR or center referee’s decisions. They should play a good game and come out with the best result for Nigerians,” he said.
He also advised that the African Football Confederation (CAF) must get it right in the usage of VAR and avoid a repeat of the incident that marred the second leg of the 2019 CAF Champions League final between Wydad Casablanca and Esperance Tunis.
“VAR has worked in other continents but in Africa it is either one problem or the other. So, I want CAF to go the extra mile to ensure that there are no shortcomings this time,” he said.
Musa Elayo, former Media Officer of Nasarawa United FC also urged the Super Eagles to be professional in their conduct on the pitch, adding that their performance alone will determine their fate.
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“They are professionals and so they should play good game with passion and determination. Our boys should not be distracted because VAR is an innovation that has come to stay and therefore, we cannot say no.
He also questioned some reviews called by VAR in the just-concluded FIFA Women World Cup and called on CAF to appoint trusted officials to handle the VAR so that only genuine cases were reviewed.
“I also want a situation whereby CAF considers only impartial capable hands for the VAR duties. This is because even the VAR makes some questionable decisions. We saw some at the just-concluded Women World Cup. So, CAF should be very thorough,” he said.
Nehemiah Gwamna, a sports correspondent for Precious FM 102.5 in Lafia, said the Super Eagles must accept every decision of VAR in good faith and not blame their performance and the outcome of the encounter on the decisions made by VAR.
“They should go and play their hearts out and whatever VAR decides in the course of the game, they should accept as fate and carry on.
“We don’t want poor concentration and excuses on VAR. VAR is a welcome development in African football and I commend CAF for introducing it,” he said.
Cheke Emmanuel, Chairman, Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) in Nasarawa State, also called on the Nigerian team and the nation as a whole not to condemn VAR if it makes decision against the Super Eagles.
He said this is because the system was introduced to correct the mistakes of the center referees and be impartial as to whatever happens on the pitch.
NAN reports that Nigeria take on South Africa on Wednesday at 8 p.m. shortly after the fixture between Senegal versus Benin Republic. (NAN)