President of Nigeria Football Federation, Ibrahim Musa Gusau said on Friday that the Super Eagles’ victory over hosts Cote d’Ivoire on Thursday at the 34th Africa Cup of Nations finals has opened the door of success for the three-time African champions.
“I have no doubt in my mind that this victory has opened the door of success for not only the Super Eagles, but Nigeria Football on a general level. The win has brought the needed confidence for us to build on, and achieve more successes. Defeating a host nation in a competition of this magnitude is no mean feat.
“A lot of people will say nothing has been won yet, and that there is no need for so much excitement. My message to them is that some little wins do serve as inspiration and fillip for bigger achievements, and it is important to celebrate those little wins so that they actually lead to bigger accomplishments.”
Gusau commended the players for their calmness and superb organization in a highly tactical game with the Elephants, and said it was a good response to the heavy flaks that followed Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Equatorial Guinea.
“I was not happy at all over the draw with Equatorial Guinea and I didn’t hide my feelings from the team. I thank God that they responded well against the Ivorians. I believe they have enough in their tank to go all the way in the competition. Now, they have the magic wand, they will make very good use of it,” said Gusau, as he called on Nigerians from all walks of life to keep supporting and praying for the Super Eagles’ success in the ongoing finals.
For the first time in 57 years, Nigeria defeated Cote d’Ivoire in Abidjan at senior level. In a FIFA World Cup qualifier in 1977, Segun Odegbami and Adokiye Amiesimaka scored to draw the Eagles level after the Elephants raced to a 2-0 lead. In May 1993, in another FIFA World Cup qualifier, Nigeria scored first through Rashidi Yekini and had opportunities to wrap up the game but did not, and the Ivorians scored through Abdoulaye ‘Ben Badi’ Traore and Ibrahim Ouattara to win the game.
When Nigeria hosted and won the Africa Cup of Nations in 1980, their group phase encounter with Cote d’Ivoire was a tough battle that ended scoreless. When Cote d’Ivoire hosted the competition four years later, both nations did not clash, as the Elephants were eliminated in the group phase while the Eagles went all the way to the Final.
On Friday, half of the Super Eagles’ squad spent time in the gym in the morning, before the training session at the École Nationale de la Police in the evening.
Now second on the group A log, the Super Eagles could finish as group winners if they win well against Guinea Bissau, and Equatorial Guinea does not humiliate the Elephants. The Elephants, on three points, will not be able to catch up with the Super Eagles who will have seven points after a win over the Wild Dogs.
Should Equatorial Guinea overcome Cote d’Ivoire, it would be down to goals difference between them and Nigeria for group leadership, as both teams ended their encounter 1-1 and head-to-head does not separate them on that score.
While the hosts take on Thunder at the Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara in Ebimpe, the Super Eagles and the Wild Dogs clash at the Stade Felix Houphouet-Boigny, which is in the centre of Abidjan, close to the Embassy of Nigeria.
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