1 July 2014

Nigeria: 'Very Talented' Super Eagles Full of Promise

Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Nigeria's Ahmed Musa provided striker Emmanuel Emenike with a low ball to score, but the goal was disallowed after an offside call which gave the Super Eagles cause to feel aggrieved.

Nigeria showed against France on Monday that they are a side full of promise but far from the finished article.

The 2-0 loss to the European side in the World Cup second round clash sees them exit Brazil without having claimed a first-ever place in the Last 8, but they can reflect on a good showing finals that bodes well for Russia 2018.

The Super Eagles, who boasted the second youngest squad at the finals after continental rivals Ghana, have always said that this is a team in progress and to be honest, it showed.

There were some very good moments for them, both in the game against France and versus Argentina in their final pool match, but it is the inability to put together a strong 90 minutes that hurt them most.

This is not an Nigerian problem alone, far from it, but one that continues to frustrate this very talented side.

Coach Stephen Keshi has resigned in the wake of the defeat, announcing on Twitter: "Friends, it has been a good run and I have enjoyed every moment. It's been an honour coaching the Super Eagles. It is, however, time to bow out."

Whether he is genuine this time remains to be seen, he also resigned in the wake of the country’s victory at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations finals but then it was a ploy to wrestle some power within the highly politicized Nigerian Football Federation.

In that instance he knew his resignation would be rejected, he can not be so sure this time round but it would be a big blow to the side to lose the man who has assembled this squad packed with potential and had said he was doing so with Russia 2018 in mind.

There has been much newspaper talk of Keshi taking over the reigns of South Africa, but it remains just that. SAFA president Danny Jordaan has yet to meet with Keshi, but has said he would like to, so the possibility remains.

Keshi was full of praise for his players in their loss to France.

“Every defeat is painful, especially when the players follow their instructions and play well, as they did against France,” he told reporters. “We didn't deserve to lose, but that's football and we have to accept it. We have to keep going forward and move on to something else now.

“There's no point looking for guilty parties. The team plays, wins or loses together. I'd like to thank the Brazilian public for their support during all of our games. I couldn't have hoped for more from them.”

France coach Didier Deschamps now looks forward to a quarterfinal meeting with Germany and was relieved to see his side past the Super Eagles.

“Nigeria played a very physical game and had a real presence across the pitch,” he told reporters. “It was a challenge to go up against that, but we managed it. For an hour, the teams were pretty even, but then we were able to get the upper hand in the last half an hour.

“The Nigerians were tired, and they started leaving gaps in their defence. We were dynamic and quick when it mattered, while Nigeria were slowing down. This deserved win will make us even stronger for the rest of the competition. I'm very proud to have reached the quarterfinals.”

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