Saturday, March 26, 2016 5:25 pm
The President, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick, and the President Nigeria’s Supporters Club, Rafiu Ladipo, say they are hopeful of Nigeria’s qualification for the 2017 African Cup of Nations.
They expressed the hope as more Nigerians reacted to the Super Eagles home 1-1 draw with the Pharaohs of Egypt in the first leg of their qualifiers on Friday in Kaduna.
Pinnick and Ladipo told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that though Nigeria failed to secure victory in the game, there was still hope that the national team would berth in Gabon.
The two-legged qualifier, between the two giants in football in Africa was expected to be the determinant of who will pick the sole ticket in
the Group G for the “Gabon 2017’’.
Pinnick said that Nigeria still had what it takes to qualify for the biennial competition though everything should be left till the second leg
“I don’t want to make much comment for now until the end of the second leg, we should wait till then before making our submissions and
we have to encourage ourselves.
“Nigerians are already encouraged that we have a future team in our hands and they are okay. We can still qualify with the current squad,’’ he said.
In his submission, Ladipo contended that Nigeria drew the Egyptians due to lack of concentration which was devastating.
“Yesterday’s 1-1 was a devastating one, we did not expect it, particularly when we have already started the celebration and the
shocker came two minutes to the end of time.
“That is the game of football, someone has to win, but if the game is on both sides like yesterday you play a draw.
“We played a draw yesterday because it was our own mistake. If you have two minutes to go, you don’t lose concentration; that is when you have to be more careful.
“That is when you have to clear all ball out of your yard particularly when you are leading by a lone goal,’’ he said.
Ladipo said that in spite of the outcome of the game, he could see quality in the array of footballers paraded by the Eagles in the match against the Pharaohs of Egypt.
“One beautiful thing that happened yesterday (Friday) in spite of the draw is that the players played very well, they created many chances; but did not make use of them.
“There is a ray of hope that if they play better than what they did yesterday, then, there is a possibility that going to Alexandra, we may win the match.
“If the unexpected happens, since they (Pharaohs), came here to play a draw, we play draw with them at Alexandra. I know it is possible with the present caliber of players.
“The performance yesterday was fair enough and we are not losing hope. Nigerians should be hopeful because come Tuesday, the game could be won by the Eagles,’’ he said