Despite the home-based Super Eagles scandalous 1-4 loss to the Black Stars of Ghana in the WAFU Nation Cup fi nal, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Barrister Solomon Dalung, has expressed satisfaction with the performance of the team at the competition. Dalung who was in Accra to cheer the team on the fi nal day of the competition stated that sportsmanship is not only about winning but also losing.
“We cannot win the cup all the time and that’s why it’s called sports. Overall, the players did very well but unfortunately they came second. I am not disappointed but satisfi ed with their performance,” he said. He, however, admonished the Technical Department of the Nigeria Football Federation to liase with the team’s coaching crew led by Salisu Yussuf to correct the fl aws noticed in the course of the competition.
“Th ey did very well but of course the technical crew will go back to review the match and amend certain strategic shortfallsin terms of coordination in our play, but overall, we must sincerely admit that they did well.” Speaking in similar manner, the body organizing the Nigeria premier leasgue, League Management Company (LMC) urged the home-based Eagles to build on the lessons learnt from the sub-continental championship for the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) as the players were drawn from the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) . LMC Chairman, Shehu Dikko who was also at the fi nals on Sunday, said he was impressed by the fi ght in the players that saw them come from the brink of ouster at the group stage to reach the fi nals.
“Winning the trophy would no doubt have been delightful, but the LMC is happy for the exposure the players have gained from playing in an international tournament of this nature and more importantly, it is a learning curve for them ahead the 2018 CHAN”, stated Dikko. Th e LMC described the tournament as a ‘win-win’ for domestic football in Nigeria and the entire West Africa, noting that the strength of West African football can be seen in the dominance of West African teams to recent World Cup tournaments. Dikko also noted that the tournament has off ered the players and coaches more time to bond and understand each other as compared to when they were just invited to camp to play for the CHAN qualifi ers, adding,
“It is our belief that a lot has been learnt on the side of the coaches and on the side of the players. Whatever gaps were observed at the WAFU tournament will be the tool to improve the team going forward”. Barrister Dalung, however, called on the NFF to draw positives from the WAFU Nations Cup as they prepare for the World Cup qualifi er against Zambia in Uyo on October 7. “
We have come a long way in our campaign for the World Cup qualifi ers and we are confi dent that despite the setback of the performance of our team in Ghana, we will defi nitely deliver on our promise of handing over the qualifi cation ticket to Nigerians. So Nigerians should remain very supportive, despite the setback we had here”, he added.