Football enthusiasts have expressed confidence that the Super Eagles will qualify for the semi-finals of the West Africa Football Union ( WAFU ) Cup of Nations tournament in spite of draw in their first group game.
The newsmen reports that the home-based Super Eagles were held to a 0-0 draw by Mali in their Group A opener at the Cape Coast Sports Stadium, Ghana on Thursday.
A cross section of football enthusiasts who spoke to newsmen on Friday said the group was still open as the Eagles’ could still finish on top of the table should they win their remaining games.
Musa Talle, Chairman, FCT Football Association, said the game against Mali was an evenly and fairly contested match between the two West African football powerhouses.
“Our game against Mali was a tough one, but the boys managed to grind out a ‘somewhat’ positive result from the encounter.
“Even though they could not score, they also did not concede which is very important.
“Now, they have one point with two more games to play in the group stage and I am confident that they will be ready for the games against Guinea and hosts Ghana.
“I am sure they know the pride and history that comes with such games, especially that of Ghana, so they will be prepared to up their game,’’ he said.
Coach Bala Mohammed of Niger Tornadoes observed that the Eagles were resilient and dogged in the defence but wasteful in front of goal.
“I have no problem with the defence department but the attackers wasted a lot of scoring opportunities.
“Therefore, the Eagles must ensure they work on their finishing if they hope to go far in the competition,’’ he said.
Usman Ilerika, the Acting Secretary, FCT Football Association, said that even though the boys failed to convert some clear cut chances at goal, they were hard done by poor officiating.
“I am not trying to make any excuse for the Eagles’ firing blank against Mali, however, I think they were hard done by some poor decisions made by the referee.
“There were several talking points, including some questionable officiating in the first half, when the Assistant Referee wrongly ruled Festus Eduwo offside after Rabiu Ali put the ball in the net.
“Nevertheless, the boys must put the game behind them and focus on the next against Guinea which is a must win if they hope to qualify for the semi-finals,’’ he said.
Godwin Bamigboye, the Chairman, FCT Chapter of Nigeria Football Coaches Association said; “Hopefully, we’ll survive from the group. It is only the first game.
“Ghana is on three points after their victory over Guinea and that puts pressure on us to also get our three points against Guinea.
“I believe we can beat them and hope the hosts also beat Mali. If that happens, then we stand a better chance of qualifying for the semi-finals,’’ he said.
Newsmen also reports that the group’s other game saw hosts Ghana beat Guinea 2-0 on Thursday.
The home-based Eagles’ next game comes up on Saturday against Guinea at the Cape Coast Sports Stadium, Cape Coast.
They will then face hosts Ghana on Monday.