Sympathy and anger as Nigerian Eagles exit World Cup

Wednesday June 27 2018

 

By MOHAMMED MOMOH
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The elimination of Nigeria from the 2018 World Cup has been greeted by both sympathy and anger.

While some are full of praise for the Super Eagles for going out against Argentina 'with their heads high', others feel let down by a team on which they had so much hope.

Fifa Secretary-General Fatma Samoura, the Confederation of Africa Football (Caf) and some Nigerians believe the team made the continent proud despite their 1-2 loss to the more fancied South Americans.

The defeat in the last Group D game at Saint Petersburg Stadium sent Nigeria to the third place with three points, behind Argentina and Croatia, with four and nine points respectively. Iceland finished bottom of the table.
The Twitter handle @fatma_Samoura urged the Super Eagles to hold their heads high.

“…To the Nigerian side be proud, be strong, hold your heads high! You have not only lifted the spirits of your country but made it very proud of you,” she tweeted.

CAF also added that the team had made them proud.

"Hard Luck @NGSuperEgles .. You did a great job and really made us proud. Celebrate Africa,” it said on Cafonline, its Twitter account.

Some Nigerian politicians also took to Twitter to laud the team.

Our hearts

Senator Ben Murray Bruce: “Great game @NGSuperEagles. The score line doesn’t fluctuate the position of our hearts. We won together, we lost together. We remain proud of you guys.”

Former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar: “We gave our all. The boys can hold their heads high. Thank you @NGSuperEagles.”

Senate President Bukola Saraki: A great performance by our @NGSuperEagles. We fought a good fight. However, you win some, you lose some. Raise your heads up, you inspired all 180 million of us. Thank you.”

The Eagles Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr, said his team lost to an experienced side.

Rohr said: “It was a big disappointment. Even though my players played their best, they lost to the opponents due to inexperience."

"They will be ready in the next World Cup when most of them would have matured for big time football like the World Cup,” he said.

Fans in Abuja expressed disappointment with the Super Eagles’ exit.

Their misfortune

Fans at the Druz Resort in Maitama noted that the team were the architects of their misfortune.

Aniekan Udom, a businessman, said the Super Eagles were presented with a rare and great opportunity to beat the psychologically demoralised Argentina but failed to convert their chances at goal.

“This was a rare opportunity for the Eagles to have qualified to the next round, but it was quite unfortunate that they blew it.

“They squandered so many goal scoring chances. Even when they drew level, they decided to retreat and defend too early rather than continuing to apply pressure.’’

Lekan Akinola, an accountant, said the Super Eagles showed too much respect for the Argentines, adding that their opponents were there for the taking.

“We could have easily beaten this Argentine side if only we had taken our chances. Our opponents had their backs to the wall and were there.’’

Better opponents

Tosin Ola, a public servant, said that in spite of the loss, the Super Eagles gave a good account of themselves, adding that there were a lot of positives the team would be taking from their World Cup experience in Russia.

“In my opinion, I think the Super Eagles campaign at the World Cup was not a bad one.

“The team gave a good account of themselves and performed creditably well against a technically and tactically better opponents in their group.’’

In Enugu, south east Nigeria, fans blamed the referee for his officiating.

The chairman the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) Enugu Chapter, Norbert Okolie, said the Super Eagles gave their best, but were let down by referee's last minute calls.

“Eagles played well after the interval but failed to seal the game with their lacklustre striking.

With Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia out of the World Cup, Senegal, the only African nation left, will take on Columbia in their last Group H game on Thursday.

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