Some notable football stakeholders on Sunday in Lagos praised the Super Eagles for their resilient performance against the Harambee Stars of Kenya in a 2014 World Cup Qualifying match.
The Eagles had to force their East African opponents to a face-saving 1-1 draw, after conceding a goal from a free-kick in the first half of the closely-fought encounter.
The stakeholders, who spoke to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in separate interviews, commended the team for their fightback.
They however tasked Stephen Keshi, the Super Eagles’ Head Coach, to work further on the team’s mental approach in order to ensure victory in the return leg game in Nairobi.
Ex-international Clement Temile told NAN he was impressed with the doggedness of the Eagles, as they played with all their strength until the final whistle.
Temile, a former Green Eagles winger who featured in the 1984 Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire, added that the Eagles played like the champions that they are.
“But for the doggedness of the Eagles, Nigeria was on the verge of a disgrace. The Eagles have proved to the world that they are true African champions,’’ he said.
Benson Edema, also a former international, told NAN he was impressed by the fact that the Eagles’ spirit was not broken after they conceded the goal.
Edema, who was a member of the Flying Eagles squad which represented Nigeria at the Mexico ’83 FIFA U-20 World Cup, urged the team to persist with their resolute team spirit.
“I am overwhelmed with the team spirit the Eagles adopted, because it really helped them to earn the draw,’’ he said.
Henry Nwosu a former Green Eagles attacking midfielder, praised Keshi for the team’s tactical approach to the match.
“Keshi’s bold initiative to blend domestic league players and their colleagues in Europe is eventually paying off,’’ he added.
Reacting to the match, Paul Hamilton, a former Super Eagles coach, told NAN the match was a good one, and urged Keshi to instil a fighting spirit in the team.
“I think Keshi has done a good job. He should continue to instill more determination in the Eagles for them to continue to exhibit team spirit in their subsequent matches,’’ he said.
Meanwhile, Seyi Akinwunmi, Chairman of the Lagos State Football Association, said he was proud of the Eagles for bringing their prowess to bear on the hard-fighting Kenyans.
He urged Nigerians to give their total support to the Eagles at all times, for the team to excel in the return leg in Kenya.(NAN)
NAN reports that the draw took the Eagles to five points from a win and two draws in three matches, thus retaining leadership of Group F in the qualifiers.