Despite underwhelming performances so far at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cote d’ Ivoire, a former international, Tijani Babangida, has said the Super Eagles are among teams that have what it takes to reach the finals of the continental showpiece.
The Super Eagles had started their campaign with a lackluster 0-0 draw with Equatorial Guinea before the 1-0 win over host nation, Cote d’ Ivoire in the second group match that raised the hope of revival.
However, on Monday, the three-time African champions only managed to secure a 1-0 win against lowly rated Guinea Bissau after a regrettable own goal by Sangante handed them the maximum points to finish second behind Equatorial Guinea in group A.
Therefore, the unconvincing performances of the Super Eagles have elicited harsh criticism from Nigerian football fans with most of them saying the former champions may not survive the round of 16 against Cameroon.
However, Babangida who spoke to Daily Trust yesterday is of the opinion that if the Super Eagles can maintain the fighting spirit they exhibited in their last two matches, they will go all the way to the finals.
He said even as the strikers didn’t score a single goal in the three group matches, they at least created so many goal scoring opportunities.
“It is true the Super Eagles have not been convincing enough but I am happy with the fighting spirit they showed in their last two matches.
“Although they didn’t score goals, we can see that the strikers created so many chances. Unfortunately, such chances weren’t converted into goals.
“But I am confident that in the coming matches, we will see a lot of goals from the strikers who have been hard working and eager to score,” he said.
The president of Professional Footballer Association of Nigeria (PFAN) also said the gap between the powerhouses and smaller nations has closed considerably which is what has led to the big upsets recorded at the 2023 AFCON.
“I won’t be surprised if Cape Verde, DR Congo, Burkina or Equatorial Guinea reach the finals. One of them deserves to be there.
“The title holders, Senegal, are already favourites because they have immensely talented players who are motivated to retain the trophy,” said Babangida.