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Mixed reactions to Eagles' draw

24 March 2013, 08:07

Abuja - There were some mixed reactions after the Super Eagles drew with the Harambee Stars of Kenya in Calabar on Saturday.

The Super Eagles forced the Harambee Stars to a draw in the World Cup qualifier at the UJ Esuene Stadium in Calabar.

Some soccer stakeholders and fans in Abuja told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that they were disappointment over the outcome of the match.

Moroof Oluwa, the Secretary-General of Nigeria Football Referees Association (NFRA), expressed concern over the ability of the Super Eagles to take their chances in front of goal.

"The boys really need to wake up from their slumber and put the victory of the Nations Cup behind them.

"The World Cup is the biggest stage of the game and it will really be a shame if we don't qualify," Oluwa said.

Godwin Bamigboye, the Chairman of the Nigeria Coaches Association (NCA), FCT chapter, said that the game was tough because the Kenyans came to defend.

"Well, the Kenyans came to defend but were caught napping in the final minute of the game.

"There is a likelihood that when the Eagles' go for the return leg in Kenya, the Harambee Stars will come out to play; then the Eagles' could create more scoring opportunities.

"I really do hope we can convert more of our chances to goals in our next match because our strikers were really wasteful today," he said.

Dimeji Salami, a business man, said that the Super Eagles were lucky to have escaped defeat after throwing away many scoring chances.

"They missed a lot of scoring opportunities and could have paid dearly for it today but for a last gasp effort from Nnamdi," he said.

Another soccer enthusiast, Audu Yisa, said the last minute goal was a big relief.

"The draw was bad enough. A defeat would have been worse.

"The boys need to put more effort into their next match because the Kenyans will be tougher to beat at home," he said.

Chidi Nwogwugwu, an estate surveyor, however, said that although the Eagles drew the game, hope was not lost.

"We are still on course; we have a very good chance of qualifying," he said.

And from Lagos, Fatai Amao, a former Head Coach of 3SC, expressed gratitude to  God for the draw and said that the shock given by the the Harambee Stars was an indication that no team should be underrated.

"The game of football is not predictable at all but we thank God that the game ended in a draw because Kenya came here to surprise us.

"I want to salute the courage of our boys not giving up until the end of the game, this is highly commendable,’’ he said.

Joe Erico, a former Assistant Head Coach of Super Eagles, said that he was taken aback by the result of the game.

Erico said that the Harambee Stars would have succeeded in beating the Eagles had they given up.

"I was apprehensive but thank God for the draw.  I believe the team will convert all their missed opportunities to goals in Nairobi,’’ he said.

Erico said that there was no complacency on the Eagles side as the team played well.

He expressed optimism that the Eagles would convert all the missed chances to goals in the return leg to enable them to qualify for the World Cup.

But Ali Reham , the Kenyan Team manager, accused the referee of assisting the Eagles to  equalise the game.

"The referee from Bostwana did not do well, he added extra time to enable Nigeria equalise.

"We played well and likewise Nigeria played like Africa Champions and kept the pressure until they equalised.

"We are not happy with the treatment given to us since when we arrived Nigeria. We hope to upturn the table in Nairobi in June,’’ he said.

Sylvanus Okpala, the Super Eagles Assistant Coach, admitted that the team did not do well in the first half.

"We made mistakes in the first half but the game changed in the second half.

"Our boys will play under less pressure in the return match and we will pay them back,’’ he said.

From Kebbi, some football fans in Birnin Kebbi described the 1-1 draw match as a big surprise and hard lesson.

The fans also expressed fears that the qualification to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup might elude the Eagles.

One of the fans, Alhaji Aliyu Jajirma, said he wondered why the Super Eagles played below expectation, adding  that “they appeared tired and may be they underrated the Kenyans.

``Today the Super Eagles played below our expectations right from the blast of the whistle as they were slow and their over carefulness almost resulted in a loss.’’

Another fan, Malam Adamu Musa, said the Kenyans were overwhelmed by the tough encounter with the eagles.

"The goal scored by Oduamadi really relieved us of the tension," Musa said.

Also, Ayo Ajoge, a football enthusiast, called on the team handlers to work out a long term plan that would enable the players to assemble and practise for, at least two weeks, before their next encounter.

"They appeared tired and uncoordinated," Ajoge noted.

He said that the Kenyan team might have studied the Eagles’ past matches before the encounter, adding "they were just unlucky in scoring goals until the last minutes."

Nigeria scored a stoppage time goal through substitute Nnamdi Oduamadi after the Kenyans surprisingly took the lead through a free kick in the 35th minute.

Kenya's goal was their first on Nigerian soil in 28 years thereby ending a long wait for a Harambee Stars' away goal against the Super Eagles.

Nigeria still leads  Group `F’ of the 2014 FIFA World Cup qualification on five points after Malawi won 1-0 at Namibia on Saturday.



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