Two More Hurdles Left

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Super Eagles celebrating
Super Eagles celebrating

With the defeat of Kenya in Nairobi and two matches the Super Eagles have put Nigeria’s in the door to Brazil 2014

By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Jun. 17, 2013 @ 01:00 GMT

SUPER Eagles of Nigeria has revived the hope of Nigerians of the possibility of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. The team maintained it leadership in Group F, of the African qualifiers after beating Kenya 1-0 in Nairobi, Kenya. Nigeria now leads the group with eight points from four matches, while Kenya is at the bottom of the table with two points. The Super Eagles will take on the Brave Warriors of Namibia on June 12, in Windhoek.

Ahmed Musa gave Nigeria the needed victory with an 81st minute strike. The Nigerian winger capitalised on Duncan Ocgieng, Kenya goalkeeper’s miscalculation to rush for the ball as the Nigerian chipped it into the net to move Nigeria closer to Brazil 2014. The African champions had a tough encounter with Harambee Stars as the host team tried all it could to exploit it home advantage.

Football analysts and Nigerians joined the team in celebrating the victory. Most of them hailed the team for securing the three points against Kenya. Adokiye Amesiemaka, former Green Eagles player, commended Stephen Keshi, Super Eagles coach, for working out a tactical game plan that gave the team the vital win. “The Eagles have shown that with commitment, they can go places. I want the Nigeria Football Federation to give Keshi and his team the maximum cooperation to win the remaining matches,” he said.

On his part, Samson Siasia, former Super Eagles coach, has praised the resilience of the Super Eagles in the team’s victory over the Harambee Stars of Kenya. Siasia had earlier charged the defence of the Eagles to step up the game against the Kenyans after he watched the defenders falter in the friendly against Mexico. He was a happy man after the team’s slim victory. “Honestly speaking, I did not watch the match but beating Kenya in Nairobi is no child’s play. This means that the team really played well and can only continue to improve. As a patriotic Nigerian who loves football passionately, I am very happy with this result and the Eagles should not rest on their oars. Kudos to coach Stephen Keshi for leading the team to victory in Kenya,” he said.

According to him, the team is gradually gelling together but the coach should continue to work also on the strikers so that they would be able to convert so many chances created in the matches played. “We have strikers that can create chances like Ahmed Musa, the goal scorer, Brown Ideye and others. But the way they convert these goals is most important. With good preparations, I believe the Eagles will come out as the group F winner.”

Stephen Keshi, Super Eagles coach, praised the team for an excellent teamwork which he believes earned them the maximum point in Nairobi. “I will not single out any player for praise. This is a sweet victory for us and it was only possible by teamwork. Everyone played his part and at the end, we are happy to have the three points. However, our focus is now on the match against Namibia in Windhoek next Wednesday. We have to pick the maximum point from that match as well, to make sure of our progress in the race, even ahead of the last matches in the group,” he said.

World Cup Qualifiers Group F Table
World Cup Qualifiers Group F Table

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, has cautioned the Super Eagles not to be carried away by the victory recorded over the Harambee Stars of Kenya. Mohammed Sanusi, the NFF director of competitions, said that it was too early for the team to celebrate. “The team should not celebrate yet as there are more hurdles to cross before the country’s World Cup ticket will be secured. It is not over until it is over. In football, anything can happen any time. While we are celebrating the victory, they should not forget that we have a very crucial match that is going to be the decider. So, we should put the victory at the back of our mind and focus on the match against Namibia. We are not there until we get there. However, we are happy for the victory. Now we know that we are very much on course to qualify for the World Cup. The boys have done well and we thank Nigerians for their prayers. I was seriously tensed up when the match was at 0-0 but was happy when it ended in our favour and Malawi and Namibia ended their encounter 0-0,” he said.

In another Group F match played simultaneously, Malawi failed to beat Namibia in Blantyre. The goalless draw in that game means that Nigeria will reach the final qualifying fixture of Brazil 2014 if it beats Namibia in Windhoek next week and also Kenya draw with Malawi in Blantyre. And with such games awaiting, Keshi has turned his attention to the game in Windhoek next week.

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