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Sports News of Friday, 28 January 2022


Ben Akwuegbu defends Buhari after Nigerians blame him for Super Eagles loss

President of Nigeria Muhammedu Buhari and the Super Eagles President of Nigeria Muhammedu Buhari and the Super Eagles

Retired Nigerian football striker, Ben Akwuegbu has said President Muhammadu Buhari was not the reason for the Super Eagles' elimination from the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations 2021.

The three-time African champions, who enjoyed 100 percent success in the group stage were crashed out of the competition by the North African side, Tunisia in a 0-1 loss.

A goalkeeping error from Maduka Okoye gave the Carthage Eagles the goal a few minutes into the second half thereby leading to the elimination of the Super Eagles.

Following the defeat, some Nigerians blamed the loss on President Muhammadu Buhari's video call with the Super Eagles earlier before the match where he commended the players for their performances and encouraged them to continue to do the country proud at the 33rd AFCON.

Many critics claimed the President’s chat with the squad was a ‘bad omen’ and a great distraction which subsequently led to the team’s defeat to the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia.

The retired footballer, who came to aid of President Buhari has said he is not to blame for the elimination of the Super Eagles.

He insisted that superstition has no place in modern football and reckons that a team loses a game when it failed to work hard.

“Besides, coaches take blames for their teams’ defeat and not someone who is nowhere near the game, not to talk of being part of the game”, said Akwuegbu when he exclusively spoke with from his base in London.

“Yes, the Super Eagles started the tournament on a high and raised the Nigerians’ appetite for a possible 4th AFCON title win. But it appeared they counted their chickens before the eggs were hatched.”

Akwuegbu added: “The Super Eagles looked down on Tunisia probably because of their depletion on account of Covid-19. And they paid the ultimate prize. So, no one should crucify our President. He encouraged his children as a father would to his children going into the battle of any kind.”

Ben Akwuegbu showered praises on the interim coach, Eguavoen for doing nice work within a very short time.

He said: “Of course, the coach takes the blame when defeat comes because he equally picks the glory in success. But I must say that Eguavoen, did a fantastic job. He took charge of the team very late but succeeded in giving the team a new organization

“It's sad things turned out this way, but I believe he would have done much better if he had more time to work with the team”.

According to him, he would love for coach Eguavoen to handle the team for the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup African qualifying playoff against arch-rivals, Black Stars of Ghana.