Several football enthusiasts have hailed the home-based Super Eagles for their victory over Equatorial Guinea, pointing out that the Eagles were gaining confidence with each game.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the home-based Eagles came from a goal down to beat Equatorial Guinea 3-1 on Tuesday at Agadir.
It was in a 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) Group C clash in Morocco.
Victory for Nigeria sealed their place in the knockout stages as group winners, with goals from Anthony Okpotu, Ekundayo Ojo and Rabiu Ali condemning Nzalang Nacional to a third straight defeat.
A cross-section of football enthusiasts who spoke to NAN on Tuesday in Abuja noted that the Eagles were more impressive against the Guineans.
Some of the respondents added that the team have been growing in confidence right from their very first match.
Musa Talle, Chairman of FCT Football Association, said the players gave a good account of themselves against an Equatorial Guinea side which deployed so many tactics to frustrate the Eagles.
“We thank God for this victory. Indeed it wasn’t an easy game as the Equatorial Guineans had nothing at stake but pride to play for.
“So, they deployed all manner of tactics just to frustrate and destabilise the Eagles, especially after they scored the opener against the run of play.
“Overall, I will say it’s a much more improved performance compared to the Eagles’ first and second games and I hope they can continue to improve and gain momentum as they progress in the tournament,” he said.
Godwin Bamigboye, the Chairman of FCT Football Coaches Association, said the match was a difficult one and required a lot of technical and tactical approach.
“It’s more difficult facing a team playing for pride, because the pressure was always going to be more on us to achieve the desired result and I am happy the boys didn’t allow the pressure get to them.
“They were composed and played with patience. Even at times when the Equatorial Guineans tried to get on their nerves, they never fell for it, but remained calm and focused on the game.
“These are the qualities of a great team and I see them finishing well,” he said.
Bamigboye also praised the team’s Head Coach, Salisu Yusuf, for his technical and tactical prowess, saying that his ability to read games was second to none.
“We played our last two games in a loose 4-3-3 formation with Rabiu Ali given the licence to roam —- something that hadn’t really paid off.
“But it was nice to see Yusuf try out a 3-5-2 formation as Sunday Faleye, playing close to Tony Okpotu, helped the Lobi Stars’ goal-poacher remember his route to goal.
“Okpotu is a finisher and does his best work in the opponents’ box, while Faleye is the runner with a bag of tricks.
“Proximity to each other could open up a symbiotic relationship from which the team would reap in the knockout stages.
“Osas Okoro was also a constant menace on the right flank as the opponents could do absolutely nothing about his dangerous crosses into their vital area,” he said.
Former Flying Eagles coach Samuel Abimbola said the team was a work in progress, urging Nigerians to be patient with the team because they were improving in every department with each game.
“There were complaints from different quarters that the Eagles did not play too well in their first two matches, but from experience I was one of those who were not quick to criticise the team.
“I knew this team was a work in progress. Even though they found it difficult to convert their goal scoring chances, they didn’t concede until today and largely controlled the matches against Rwanda and Libya.
“You could see the difference today (Tuesday). They had a total of 18 shots with nine on target, compared to their first game where they registered more than 24 shots against the Amavubis, but ended up with not even a single goal.
“Then, they managed to score a goal in their next game against Libya which was a very cagey affair, I must confess.
“This clearly shows that the team is improving with each game and that is how it is supposed to be,” he said.
Abimbola also singled out Ojo for praise, adding that the goal he scored against Equatorial Guinea was one of the contenders for the goal of the tournament.
NAN reports that the Super Eagles will next meet the runners-up from Group D which has Angola, Congo and Burkina Faso still in the running for places in the knockout stages.