More home-based stars for World Cup qualifiers
Super Eagles’ home-based players have another chance to show the technical crew why they deserve more opportunities in the senior national team when they play friendly matches against Canada, Ghana and Cameroun.
The team met yesterday lost 0-4 to Mexico in a friendly game played in the Los Angeles Coliseum, California, United States.
Speaking after the game watched by over 50,000 fans, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President, Amaju Pinnick, revealed that the federation was at the verge of finalising arrangements for the friendly games, which would hold before the 2022 World Cup qualifiers begin later this year.
He added that the matches would hold in the 73,000 capacity M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, United States.
“This is the launchpad we are providing for you to showcase your talents,” Pinnick told the media.
“This team is our pride, and we will keep you and monitor you because you are the next big thing in Nigerian football.
“In October, we will be flying the team to Baltimore for friendly games against Ghana possibly, Cameroun and Canada, maybe. We will sort that out in the coming weeks.
“We will tidy up all the documentation. You will be playing at the 73,000 capacity M&T Bank Stadium.”
In the game against Mexico, Nigeria presented a team made up of players from the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) with Ibrahim Sunusi, who plays for Montreal FC the only foreign-based star in the squad.
The team’s inexperience showed as they conceded two quick goals in the second and fourth minutes through Hector Herrera and Rogelio Funes Mori.
After these goals, the Eagles resisted Mexico’s quest for more till the end of the opening half. But they failed to muster a single shot at goal in the first half.
Mexico resumed their scoring streak six minutes into the second half when Herrera capitalised on a defensive error from Super Eagles goalkeeper Stanley Nwabali to slot home for his second.
Former Barcelona star, Jonathan dos Santos, who came in as a substitute in the second half, made it 4-0 13 minutes from time for the Mexicans.
Speaking on the game, Super Eagles Head Coach, Gernot Rohr, praised the team for ‘a good outing.’
He said, “These are young players playing in front of over 50,000 fans in a foreign land. It was not easy but they showed they can play this game.
“We are very happy that fans are returning to stadiums after a long time playing in empty stadiums. Mexico is number 11 in the world and our young team is the best players in the professional league at home. They have learnt a lot from this game. I saw some interesting players who could be useful in our next World Cup qualifiers. Some of these players still have to work to improve physically.”
Rohr explained that the game was part of Nigeria’s preparations for the World Cup qualifiers, which will start with a home team against Liberia on September 3.
“A few days later, we hope to play against Cape Verde before meeting Central African Republics. It is a long way to the World Cup, but this match has shown that some of the local players can play in the World Cup qualifiers.
“The match was a good lesson for my players because Mexico are one of the favourites for the Gold Cup.”