World Cup: Foot­ball en­thu­si­asts hail Ea­gles’ un­beaten run

Sunday Trust - - FEVER PITCH -

Some foot­ball en­thu­si­asts yes­ter­day 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.

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 to the News Agency of Nige­ria (NAN) 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 Sec­re­taryGen­eral 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 was 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,” 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.

Nige­ria’s mid­fielder Etebo Oghenekaro (R) chal­lenges Al­ge­ria’s mid­fielder Me­hdi Abeid dur­ing the 2018 FIFA World Cup African zone group B qual­i­fy­ing foot­ball match be­tween Nige­ria and Al­ge­ria

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