8th June, 2011
Chief Coach of Nigeriaâ€™s senior national team, the Super Eagles, Samson Siasia is facing a trying moment in his career, following his teamâ€™s lackluster performance in their African Cup of Nations qualifying match against the Wayla Antelopes of Ethiopia in Addis Ababa last Sunday.
The star-studded Nigerian team forced Ethiopia to 2-2 draw, a team seen as underdogs in Group B of the qualifiers.
Since last December when the former Nigerian international took over the job of the Eagles from former teammate, Austin Eguavoen, Siasia has lost only a match, the final of 2011 WAFU Cup held in Abeokuta.
The draw against Ethiopia, according to Nigerian fans is not acceptable. The coach, who is loved by many is undoubtedly under fire as critics want his squad to sit up and get the nation a desired result.
The Group leaders, Guinea are in a clear lead to secure the ticket having with 10 points, while Nigeria are trailing with 7 points with the two teams having two games to play.
Before the Eagles left for Ethiopia, a former international, Tijani Babangida, faulted the travel arrangements of the team, describing it as very unfortunate for a Nigerian team that ought to have been in Addis Ababa long enough to acclimatise ahead of the crucial match.
The Eagles left on the eve of their match, arriving Ethiopia on the day they were scheduled to play the Waylas Antelopes.
â€œThe team ought to have traveled before today for the players, who are mostly Europe based, to get used to the weather condition in Addis Ababa.,â€ said the one time Ajax Amsterdam, VVV Venlo and Roda JC of Holland ace.
Nigeriaâ€™s CAF and FIFA instructor, Adegboye Onigbinde said that the Eagles have put themselves in a tight corner qualifying for the Gabon/Equatorial Guinea 2012 Nations Cup.
Onigbinde, who did not hide his disappointed over the draw with lowly rated Ethiopia told SuperSport.com that the result has made qualification for the quadrennial football show piece more difficult.
â€œI was expecting a better result given their performance against Argentina. We have a misfortune; it will be unfortunate if we do not learn anything from it. I hope Siasia who has owned up to some inadequacies in the players will learn from the mistake.
â€œGuinea defeated Madagascar 4-1, apart from the three points, goal difference is something, and it has really made it tight and tough for us.
â€œThere is nothing we can do about the result, we cannot re-write it, let us leave it to the coaches to sort out the mess.â€
Some officials of Nigeria Football Federation, NFF are not happy with the outcome of the match, they advised Siasia to accept the blame for the unwarranted draw, stressing that his excuse that the pitch and weather contributed to the draw was not accepted.
â€œThe players were so lukewarm in the approach to the match. They thought that playing Argentina was the same way as playing Ethiopia in an Africa cup of Nations qualifiers.â€
This is a big thumbs down for Siasia and his team. But the coach is confident of securing the Nations Cup ticket in spite of the unfortunate result.
â€œWe will qualify for the Nations Cup. We know we can play better than we did against Ethiopia because the players were tired from jet lag and we will work with the NFF to resolve all those issues before the next match.â€
NFF General Secretary, Musa Amadu said in Abuja that the Federation and the Super Eaglesâ€™ technical crew will meet again to resolve the logistics challenges before the next game.
â€œWe are fully aware of the huge task at hand and we are ready to face and conquer that particular task. Nigeria must be one of the 16 teams that will participate at the 28th AfricanCup of Nations to be co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea early next year. That is non-negotiable,â€ Amadu said.
â€œThis week, the NFFâ€™s top hierarchy and Super Eaglesâ€™ Coach, Samson Siasia will sit down and look at all the challenges that are involved now, and every step will be taken to overcome those challenges before the next game against Madagascar in Antananarivo in September,” he said.