Abakaliki - Football fans in Ebonyi have urged the Super Eagles to avoid all forms of distractions, as they prepare for the crucial Brazil 2014 World Cup qualifying play off in October.
The fans gave the advice in Abakaliki on Sunday while reacting to the team’s 2-0 win over the Flames of Malawi, in a World Cup qualifier played at the U.J. Esuene Stadium in Calabar on Saturday.
The fans offered the advice in separate interviews with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in their bid to assist the nation's soccer team to qualify for the World Cup in Brazil.
The win made the Super Eagles to top Group F and qualify for the home and away legs playoff, among 10 qualifying teams that would determine Africa's five representatives at the mundial.
Chief Obinna Ogba, former Vice-Chairman, Nigerian Football Association (NFA), commended the team for the victory but criticised the spate of controversies that surrounded the match.
"The players’ match bonuses, Stephen Keshi’s altercation with Malawian Coach, Tom Saintfeld, the flight hitches experienced by some players, all reared their ugly heads before the encounter.
"Relevant stakeholders should ensure that such incidences are avoided before the play off, as the Super Eagles' next opponents would definitely be stronger than the Malawians,'' he said.
Coach of Ebonyi Stars Football Club, Sule Abubakar, described the play off as a banana peel that was waiting to bring down any team.
"Utmost caution should be exercised during the two-legged encounter because any mistake would end the country’s World Cup dreams.
"Nigeria should utilise its privilege of playing the first leg away, as they hope to maintain their current FIFA ranking due to the recent back-to-back wins over South Africa and Malawi,'' he said.
On his own, Chukwudi Achife, Nehuda FC of Abakaliki's defender, commended Keshi for gradually moulding the team into a formidable one reminiscent of the glorious days of the 1990’s.
"The team have been on steady ascendancy since Keshi took over in 2011, as team cohesion, immaculate positional play, aggressiveness that were their hallmarks, have been brought back.
"The coaches should, however, work on the goal scoring department, as it was evidenced with the catalogue of misses recorded by the strikers in the Malawian match,'' he said.
Chief Basil Ogodo, a transporter, advised Keshi to guard his utterances as the play off approached, to prevent a possible touch-line ban that would affect the team’s qualification.
"He should learn to apply decorum even in the face of highest provocation, as opponents would be employing the mind-game tactics to unsettle the Super Eagles.
"The team’s psychologists should also counsel Keshi in this regard, as more provocations would come his way as far as he is recording successes,'' he said.
Also, Lucy Olunna, a teacher, urged the NFA to immediately resolve the Keshi/Saintfeld issue for the Nigerian coach to escape possible FIFA’s hammer.
"The issue should be settled diplomatically, as Nigeria no longer has the clout to participate in FIFA politics,’’ she said.