Former Super Eagles captain, Austin Okocha, believes that Nigeria’s victory over the tournament’s favourites, Elephants of Ivory Coast, has thrown the competition open, saying that any team can goal ahead now and win the tournament.
Reacting shortly after the match on Sunday, the former Bolton Wanderers midfield ace says the Elephants paid for ascribing the driver’s seat to themselves, praising the Eagles for coming out of the Ivorians’ shadows.
He said, “Words cannot express the way I feel right now. I am proud of these boys, they have done well to stop the Elephants and I think they deserve praises from every Nigeria. The win over them has thrown the competition open, we have a clear chance to win now just like any other team.
“The Eagles were not given a chance, everyone said Ivory Coast would beat Nigeria but when you are pushed to the wall, your best comes out. That was exactly what happened in the game.”
Okocha said the Eagles played to earn respect at the tournament, expressing the optimism that subsequent opponents would play against Nigeria with their handbrakes.
“The Eagles felt that they were not respected anymore so they had to play to earn the respect. There is a lot that victory over favourite team does for a team. From now on, Eagles’ opponents will play them with respect. As a matter of fact, they had nothing to lose against the Elephants.”
The former World Cup star said the Eagles had a chance to move past Mali on Wednesday if they sustained the level that they displayed against Ivory Coast.
“If we play as we did today, we will not have problem beating Mali in the next game.
“We were fantastic in terms of tactical discipline and the motivation level was something that also counted for Nigeria,” said Okocha.