Former Nigeria striker, Ben Akwuegbu, has exonerated Nigeria President, Mohammadu Buhari, from blame for Super Eagles’ 1-0 defeat to Tunisia in the Round of 16 of the ongoing 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon, Completesports.com reports.
The three-time African champions enjoyed a 100 per cent success in the group phase with 1-0 triumph over Egypt, 3-1 win against Sudan and 2-0 thrashing of Guinea-Bissau.
The resultsplaced the Super Eagles on a huge advantage going into the Round of 16 fixture against a Tunisian side that featured a Covid-19 depleted squad, with seven of their players and head coach ruled out of the game.
But a stunning 47th minute Youssef Msakni drive from 25-yards out swerved into Maduka Okoye’s net despite scretching the goalkeeper’s left palm to hand The Carthage Eagles a 1-0 win against the 10-man Super Eagles.
Nigerians found the defeat too bitter to swallow with some heaping the blame on the country’s Executive President, Mohammadu Buhari who spoke with Super Eagles team on the match day via video call during which he commended the players for their performances and encouraged them to continue to do the country proud at the 33rd AFCON.
Many critics dismissed the President’s chat with the squad as ‘bad omen’ and distraction which eventually led to the team’s defeat to the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia.
Akwuegbu has now absolved President Buhari of any blame. The ‘Austrian Bomber’ insists that superstition has no place in modern football and reckons that a team loses a game when it failed to work hard.
“Besides, coaches takes blames for their teams’ defeat and not someone who is no where near the game, not to talk of being part of the game”, said Akwuegbu when he exclusively spoke with Completesports.com from his base in London.
“Yes, the Super Eagles started the tournament on a high and raised the Nigerians’ apetite for a possible 4th AFCON title win. But it appeared they counted their chickens before the eggs were hatched.”
Akwuegbu added: “The Super Eagles looked down on Tunisia probably because of their depletion on account of Covid-19. And they paid the ultimate prize. So, no one should crucify our President. He encouraged his children as father would to his children going into battle of any kind.”
The former Stum Gratz of Austria forward heaped praises on coach Eguavoen for doing a nice work within a very short time.
“Of course, the coach takes the blame when defeat comes because he equally picks the glory in success. But I must say that he, [Eguavoen], did a fantastic job. He took charge of the team very late but succeeded in giving the team a new organisation,” Akwuegbu started.
“Its sad things turned out this way, but I believe he would have done much better if he had more time to work with the team”.
Eguavoen replaced the sacked Gernot Rohr on interim basis and was billed to step down from the role after the Super Eagles’ AFCON 2021 campaign in line with his earlier agreement with his employers, Nigeria Football Federation, NFF. But Akwuegbu told Completesports.com that he would have loved the former captain to handle the team for the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup African qualifying playoff against arch-rivals, Black Stars of Ghana.Copyright © 2021 Completesports.com All rights reserved. The information contained in Completesports.com may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without the prior written authority of Completesports.com.