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Eguavoen: Super Eagles lacked character against Ghana!

Eguavoen: Super Eagles lacked character against Ghana!

Augustine Eguavoen, a former Super Eagles manager, has claimed that the senior national team missed out on a place in the 2022 World Cup because the players lacked the spirit to beat Ghana’s Black Stars in their play-off eliminator last week.

The Super Eagles drew 1-1 with the Ghanaian Black Stars in the second leg of the World Cup play-offs after the first leg ended goalless in Kumasi, and Eguavoen blamed the loss on the players’ lack of character.

“Perhaps the character was weak, perhaps the players were swept up in the game’s emotions. Then, thanks to an early goal, Ghana remained in the game, and we had to chase them down. We were without Wilfred Ndidi due to injury, but we made up for it by bringing in Innocent Bonke, who played well until he was hurt again. Onyeka (Frank) was also on top of his game, but he was injured as well. Etebo looked good when he came in in Kumasi, but he only lasted about an hour in the second leg, most likely because he was still recovering from an injury. So, looking at the bench, who could you have brought on to replace these guys? We had to shift formation because we were chasing the game at the time. We needed just one goal to go through, but we weren’t able to get the game-winning goal,” he said.

Despite the setback, Eguavoen insists he’s not given up hope of tinkering with the national team again in the near future despite the pains of failing to guide Nigeria to a 2022 World Cup ticket. 

He stated, “My captain came out to apologize on behalf of the squad, and I’d like to express my regret for disappointing Nigerians by failing to qualify for the World Cup. I consider it daring of me to accept such a “tough” position, but I am proud to serve my country. Never again will I say never. I will return to coach the Super Eagles at some point in the future, but not right away. I’ll give it some time, but I’ll surely return.”

The former national team captain also justified his decision to bring in players such as Moses Simon, Sadiq Umar, and Ahmed Musa in a last-ditch attempt to score the game-winning goal, which ultimately fell short.

“It was unquestionably a risk. We had to switch to a back three because we needed goals badly, so we brought on Sadiq, a tall striker, to add extra forwards. We had more numbers in attack, expecting to move the ball to the sides because Osimhen is also tall, quick, and energetic. We also had the option of passing through the middle of the pack, so we had to play with a back three while hoping our attacking numbers would yield goals. Regrettably, it did not go as planned.”

The former international defender took advantage of the chance to clarify whether he resigned or was dismissed by his employers, as had been widely rumored in the media.

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He stated, “I was not fired. Allow me to describe what occurred. I slept for almost 48 hours after the game and when I awoke, I sent a letter to the NFF. As I previously stated “I want to thank the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) from the bottom of my heart for giving me the opportunity to coach the national team during the World Cup qualifiers. The goal was to qualify for Qatar 2022, but since we haven’t met that goal, I’d like to resign as a coach and return to my position as Technical Director. I thanked the Minister, the Federation, and all of the supporters. I must state that I was provided with everything necessary for a successful campaign, yet the opposite is true. So I resigned rather than being fired.”

With the 2021 AFCON and World Cup play-offs looming, the 56-year-old tactician insists he has no regrets about taking the position when he did.

“I have no regrets whatsoever. When you’ve been asked to serve, you can’t say no. I couldn’t say no, and I’m not going to blame myself for the World Cup defeat. We drew both at home and away, but lost on the away goal rule, so that isn’t a failure. I would consider it a failure if we had lost in Kumasi or at home. We didn’t lose any games, but we did lose the ticket, so it isn’t a failure,” he concluded.

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