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Sports News of Tuesday, 1 February 2022


Forget about AFCON disappointment, focus on World Cup qualifier against Ghana – Eguavoen urges Eagles

Augustine Eguavoen Augustine Eguavoen

Austin Eguavoen has urged the Super Eagles players to put the disappointment of the AFCON 2021 behind them and focus on the 2022 World Cup qualifier against Ghana in March.

After a brilliant start to the ongoing AFCON in Cameroon, the Eagles were shocked 1-0 by Tunisia in the round of 16.

The Eagles had a perfect record in the group stage after winning all their three games and went into the knockout tie against the North Africans as favourites.

However, a Youssef Msakni’s second half goal was enough to seal victory for the Carthage Eagles.

And speaking to the players and backroom staff before the team left departed Cameroon, Eguavoen thanked everybody for their contributions and urged them to put the disappointment aside and focus on the challenges ahead.

“It is a bitter pill to swallow no doubt about it but human beings proposes and God dispossess,” he said in a video published on NFF TV.

“I have decided with the entire crew just to have a word with you guys because you will be travelling back and we might not have the opportunity to gather. This is just to show appreciation to you players and the backroom staff.

“What we’ve been hearing about you guys turned out to be wrong, because you guys have displayed professionalism big time. Commitment, togetherness, love, passion, dedication everything put together nothing is missing at all. So I want to say congratulations for your performance but we were striving for something but we couldn’t get it. It’s one of those in life. It’s very painful to exit the tournament in the round of 16 with the calibre of players that we have.

“But my joy is that at least we were able to impact something and the response from you guys was amazing. This morning I got a call from the honourable minister and he told me to let you guys know that you shouldn’t bury your head down, heads up and he is very satisfied with the performance so far.

The NFF president also called me, the General Secretary called me, Barrister Akinwunmi called me, Shehu Dikko called me. For them to still believe in this team I think it’s a plus. Now we will be travelling back home I know you will hear some positive things and negative things, it is normal in life for whatever reasons because Nigerians they love football and that’s what brings smiles to their faces.

“So a lot was expected and we couldn’t meet the expectations. Not their expectations because first of all you first which is important, we couldn’t meet our expectations which is okay, it happens football. But I want you to continue to believe in yourselves because you still have a whole lot of job to do for yourselves and the nation. The World Cup qualifier is close, the quicker we take this off our mind the better for everybody.

“The fact that we still have the NFF in support of what we are doing we now see we don’t have anything to worry about. It was hard for me to sleep but what do I have to do, take it digest and just move on, mistakes are there to be made. Turn your ears to negative thoughts and think positive.

“It was a very short tournament for us, some people got to play some didn’t get to play but the way we took it is very encouraging and I want to urge you to continue in that line because it will come to your turn also to be in the shoes. If you wish your teammates well it will also go well with you. But if you have a bad mind it will have a way to get back to you whether we like it or not.

“So I want to say a very big thank you to the staff here, very supportive. We said it from day one there would be ups and downs there would be argument but for a reason for the same objective. Believe me the progress we’ve made right from December I think is wonderful. So it’s not easy but please don’t bury down your head, heads up and continue to do what you know how to do best in your clubs and hopefully, I’m still the director of football in Nigeria and the Football Federation, we will do everything possible because the platform is already there, it doesn’t matter who is in charge but the country first. We don’t have any other country to coach or to play for but the country first.

“So whenever any of us is called upon please do not hesitate. There will be some negative words from social media but it is normal it is the way they feel, the spur of the moment it’s emotions one game can change the whole situation. l know it’s difficult to take but please let us try.

“For the skipper, I appreciate your leadership and the way we’ve gone about this whole thing is unique so let’s enjoy the moment and when we meet our bosses back home they will tell us what the next programme would be.

“At this point I want to say a big thank you to you guys and try to cheer up and we wish ourselves the best of luck God bless you all.”