President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick says the 2-1 victory by the Super Eagles over a resilient Bafana Bafana of South Africa was as a result of the ‘true Nigerian spirit’ displayed by the players.
The Eagles, who scored in the first half of the game through Samuel Chukwueze, conceded a goal midway into the second half after allowing the South Africans to control the game before defender Troost Ekong saved the day with a late tap in, which sent millions of South African fans to their beds early.
Speaking with The Guardian shortly after the match at the Cairo International stadium, Pinnick showered praises on the players and members of the Super Eagles’ technical crew for a job well done.
Pinnick, who is the first vice president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), however, stated that he was delighted for the display of ‘true Nigerian spirit’ by the players. “Any time I meet with the players, I always tell them to put up that true Nigerian spirit whenever thy are on the pitch. I am happy they did that today, and it paid off.
“We are happy for this victory, but we must have it at the back of our minds that the battle is not over yet. I am appealing to all Nigerians to stand by the Super Eagles until we win the trophy. We believe in the team and the NFF shall continue to encourage the players and their coaching crew in whatever way we can.” Pinnick stated.
Perhaps, apart from Libya ‘82, when the then Green Eagles crashed out in the group state, and therefore failed to defend their title, Nigeria always return home with a medal in other editions of the African Nations Cup staged on north African soil.
At MAROC ‘88, Nigeria went home with a medal, same for Algiers ‘90, where the Clemens Westerhof-led Super Eagles got to the final and lost to the host nation. The biggest reward for Nigeria on north African soil came at Tunisia ‘94, where the Super Eagles won the title by beating Zambia in the final. Ten years later, the Super Eagles finished third at Tunisia 2004 edition of the championship. In 2006, when Egypt hosted the African Nations Cup, the Super Eagles, led by Coach Austin Eguavoen lost in the semifinal to Cote d’Ivoire in Alexandria, but won their third place match. Pinnick says the team has current Super Eagles squad has what it takes to win the AFCON title come July 19 in Cairo, Egypt.