In an interview with Supersport.com in Faro, Portugal, where the Eagles are preparing for the Africa Cup of Nations, Coach Keshi compared his present team to the 1994 Eagles.
In a sharp reaction to this assertion, Rufai who manned the posts when the Eagles campaigned at both the 1994 Cup of Nations and the FIFA World Cup said, “our ’94 squad was poles apart.”
He said although the present Eagles could boast of some talented footballers, “they still cannot be compared with the team of our time.”
Said he, “remember, 1994 was not our first Nations Cup as some of us had been in the national team since Libya ’82. We were in Cote d’Ivoire ’84, Egypt ’86, Maroc ’88, Algiers ’90 and Senegal ’92 before Tunisia ’94. You can see the difference. The present crop of players have to be there for some time to be compared to our team.”
Apart from experience, which Rufai said comes with time, the former goalkeeper said, “during our time, we played a lot of matches, our league was good and the competition for shirts in the national team was stiffer. We went through a lot to get to the national team.”
He noted that the Eagles preparing for the Nations Cup in South Africa were an upcoming team that need encouragement. “They need our prayers to succeed in South Africa and I wish them goodluck.”