Barnabas Imenger: Super Eagles are condemned to beat Knights of Libya
What are your expectations from the Super Eagles are they get set to battle Libya in the 2019 AFCON qualifier in Uyo? The Super Eagles are condemned to win this match. They have to beat Libya so as to improve their position on the table. Where they are at the moment on the table is not good enough. The coach needs to get his tactics and game plan in order so that at the end of the day, we shall come out victorious.
I think the players we have, at African level, I think they are okay. It is only at the world level that we have serious problems. We are not yet there at the world level as was seen at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. At the African level, we are among the best teams. However, this is not enough for the Super Eagles to undermine the Libyans. The North Africans are tricky customers. Moreover, they too have to win to maintain the momentum.
You will agree with me that there is always a problem when you don’t start a competition on a sound footing. In our opening match of the group, we allowed South Africa to come and beat us at home. So the Eagles need to bounce back. Eagles are professionals. They are plying their trade in some of the best leagues in the world. So they know that when a team is down, they need to be counted. They need to rise up as true professionals so as to be counted. They must fight and fight and fight to the end so as claim one of the tickets to the 2019 AFCON. This is what I will tell the players.
The team will miss him greatly. Such a big player, definitely they are going to miss him. He is not only a big player, he contributes so much to the team. His work rate is superb. His technique is wonderful. He has high work rate. His commitment and contributions to the team is exemplary. We are going to miss him. However, other players who are there should take the opportunity. His absence should be opportunity for another star to rise.
Victor Moses is too young a player to retire from the nation team. He has age on his side. At 28 years, I doubt if he retired as a result of age. I think he took that decision because of some reasons we are yet to know. The NFF certainly shouldn’t get angry and say to hell with him, no. That is not the way to do it. It won’t take us anywhere. They should try to find out from him his reasons for quitting and if possible, try to see how they can convince him to come back and continue with his services to the country. For now, we need Moses. We need him because his presence in the team always brings something special. So as an ex-international, I am advising the NFF to convince Moses to return. He is our son and if he is crying over an issue, they should listen and offer advice accordingly.
Well, if you look at our performances since the league started, for over four months, we were on top of the league table. So if crisis came somewhere and the league ended the way it did and we are crowned champions, I think we are worthy champions. For us to have stayed on top for four months, it means we have something in us that was better and bigger than our opponents. There is this argument that if the league had continued, maybe we would have lost some matches because other club were closing in on us. Of course, the league is like a marathon. As it progresses, sometimes the gap closes, sometimes it widens. But I can tell you without any sentiment that at the level we were playing, even if the remaining matches were played, we would have still won the title. So for me, without sounding immodest, I think we are worthy champions.
We have a very big challenge at hand. If you study the history of Nigerian clubs’ participation in the CAF Champions league, I don’t think any club has reached the group stage in the past five years. I stand to be corrected. We are planning and working very hard to make sure that we overcome what is now becoming a jinx now. The in-thing now is good planning and hard work. By the grace of God, we shall get to the group stage and maybe beyond. We don’t want to fall by the way side like the other teams.
Well, I must say Lobi Stars have never had it so good like it is happening under the administration of His Excellency, Dr. Samuel Ortom. I want you to know that our monthly subvention that covers salaries and running of matches has been placed on first line charge. The club has been enjoying tremendous support from the governor who is an ardent football fan and that is why the issue of salary is not a problem in Lobi. Not long ago, the governor gave approval for all our outstanding allowances to be paid. That is why we also worked hard to reward him, the government and people of Benue State. As we talk, a committee has been raised by government to source for additional funds for us to prosecute the Champions league. As you know, playing in the Champions League is a different ball game. It is capital intensive so we need financial support more than what we get in the domestic league. I can tell you and assure you that the Benue State government is putting in everything to ensure that money is not our problem in prosecuting the CAF Champions League.
Super Eagles vice-captain, Ahmed Musa celebrates after scoring his first goal against Iceland at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.