Home-based Super Eagles coach, Salisu Yusuf, has said the team may have passed their most difficult test of the competition so far following Sunday’s 2-1 quater-final victory against Angola at the 2018 African Nations Championship.
The Palancas Negras who took a shock lead early in the second half and had goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa to thank for keeping the team in the game with a number of vital saves.
The Home Eagles fought back late in the game to score the equaliser through Anthony Okpotu in added time before getting the winning goal courtesy of a beautiful strike by Gabriel Okechukwu in the second period of extra time.
The gaffer reckoned that he never lost faith in his players and had the belief that they will bounce back in the game.
“Today’s (Sunday) game was the most difficult for us in the tournament as we fought for 90 minutes against a good team,” Yusuf stated in his interaction with the media after the game.
“We never lost faith in our players because we were creating chances and the more you do that the chances of scoring are higher.”
Yusuf also backed under fire striker, Anthony Okpotu who missed a number of goal scoring opportunities in the game to come good in the competition despite widespread criticism about his performance.
“I’m so confident about Anthony Okpotu and we believe in him and he has been scoring despite missing some chances, but he will be much better in the coming matches,” the former Kano Pillars coach stated.
“We never understimated Angola. They play good football and are a good team, but the important thing was to win and we won.”
Home-based Super Eagles winger cum right-back, Osaso Okoro, has admitted that the team must be clinical in front of goal to stand a chance of advancing to the next round of the ongoing 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) in Morocco.
Okoro who is making his second tournament appearance at (CHAN) also rues the scoring chances the Home Eagles squandered during their their first Group C match against Rwanda, insisting the the team was unlucky in that game.
“Sometimes games end in that wa, but we must take our chances in the next game against Libya,” Okoro, an Enugu Rangers defender told CSN from Morocco.
“We were not lucky at all, and I hope we will be luckier in our next game.”
Okoro also told Completesportsnigeria.com that the home-based Super Eagles’ next Group C opponent, Libya, will be very tough to beat on Friday.
“Libya will be tough, and we will be ready to face them because only a win can guarantee us a place in the next round.
“To beat them (Libya) we must be clinical. if we don’t take our chances, then we will have ourselves to blame.”
Libya kicked off defeated Equatorial Guinea 3-0 in their first game, and a win over the the Home Eagles will seal their place in the quarter-finals.
Nigeria’s Home Eagles are joint second with Rwanda behind group leaders, Libya, who have three points from thei first game. Equatorial Guinea, without any point yet, are rock bottom in Group C.
Home-based Super Eagles coach, Salisu Yusuf, is still upbeat about his side’s chances of qualifying for the next round despite playing a goalless draw with Rwanda in their opening Group C game of the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) on Monday night.
Yusuf stated during his post match interview that the result was not a setback but rather a wake up call for his side who must take their chances in subsequent games.
The Home Eagles were denied thrice by the crossbar in the first half of the draw.
“Generally, it is not a setback because we created chances and we couldn’t score but if we keep creating chances and hopefully take them, we can beat any team in this tournament,” Yusuf said.
Nigeria face Group C leaders and 2014 winners of the tournament, Libya in their next game on Friday. Libya defeated Equatorial Guinea 3-0 in the group’s other match on Monday.
The Home Eagles are in their third appearance at the tournament and have never reached the finals of the competition with a third place finish their best.
They crashed out of the group stages of the last edition in Rwanda in 2016.
Home-based Super Eagles coach, Salisu Yusuf, is expected to name his final 23-man squad for the African Nations Championship next week ahead of the team’s departure for a training tour in Rabat, Morocco on January 2nd.
The Super Eagles who won the Nigeria Professional Football League invitational tournament in Kano on Sunday, are currently in Abuja for the second phase of their preparation for the CHAN.
Yusuf named a 30-man squad for the NPFL invitational and extended a late invitation to Nasarawa United goalkeeper Suraj Ayeleso on Wednesday.
“We will be leaving for Rabat, Morocco on January 2nd for the final stage of our preparation for CHAN 2018,” a reliable camp source informed newsmen.
“Before then, the final 23-man list for the competition will be made known to the public. All things being equal, the final list will be out next week.”
The home Eagles who had a disappointing showing at the last edition of the CHAN in 2016 in Rwanda, exiting in the group stage, will face the same team (Rwanda) in their first Group C game in Tangier on January 15.
2014 champions Libya and debutants Equatorial Guinea are the other teams in the group.
The competition will run from January 13 to February 4 in Morocco.