Former Nigeria coach Christian Chukwu has submitted that the Super Eagles were unable to progress at the FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil due to inexperience of some of the players.
The team crashed out of the eight-team tournament on Sunday after just winning one match from three. Their opening group game against Tahiti ended 6-1 in their favour, but lost to Uruguay (2-1) and Spain (3-0) to exit from the tournament.
Chukwu, who led the national team to win the Africa Cup of Nations in 1980, said the strikers missed many scoring chances in the three games due to their inexperience, but praised coach Stephen Keshi for giving the players the opportunity to play at the big stage.
He said, “People keep saying we missed strikers like Obafemi Martins and Osaze Odemwingie, but that is not the issue. When these players were there and did not play to our satisfaction, we clamoured for other players to be included. What is missing in this team is experience. We should not forget that key players like Victor Moses and Emmanuel Emenike were not available for this tournament.
“If this crop of players continues to play at the big stage just as they did at the Confederations Cup, they’ll gradually acquire what is needed to win games at the top level.”
He added, “The results (in Brazil) are not encouraging but Keshi deserves credit for giving the players the chance to play at the top level.
“One of the lessons learnt from the Confederations Cup will be on how to fortify the team ahead of their last World Cup qualifier against Malawi and the subsequent preparation of the team for the World Cup.
“It is better we fail and learn at this level than to disgrace ourselves at the World Cup next year. The purpose of this competition is to assess the team’s strength, and we have seen our weaknesses.”