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‘Don’t Blame President Buhari For Super Eagles’ AFCON 2021 Woes’ –Akwuegbu Cautions Critics

‘Don’t Blame President Buhari For Super Eagles’ AFCON 2021 Woes’   –Akwuegbu Cautions Critics

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.

Also Read: Ministry, NFF Hold Crucial Meeting To Review Super Eagles’ AFCON Performance

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.”

Also Read: ‘President Buhari, Nigerians Believe In These Super Eagles; Future Will Be Great’ –Sports Minister, Dare

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.

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  • Gabriel 2 years ago

    It is normal for Presidents of countries to call up their wards as symbol of encouragement. Some will even go as far as giving them orders to perform, thank God will have a humane leader who is interested in the affairs of our footballers and their managers. That being said, we have got to look forward since Afcon21 is gone as far as our participation is concerned. On that note, I join other Nigerians which includes President Buhari to give the interim coach, Eguavoen, the nod to coach the Super Eagles on a permanent basis. There’s need for continuity. God bless Nigerians.

    • Timothy Okon 2 years ago

      @Gabriel, it is the best thing. Besides, our team was depleted too. Just imagine if the coach had Dennis the menace, Ighalo, Victor Osimhen and others in the aquard, Eguavoen despite the few days of training, would have had a different ball game. Good luck to the Eagles as they prepare for the playoffs.

      • Kayode Olapitan 2 years ago

        Even as I watch the youtube videos of the series of training organised by Eguavoen within the few days, it became obvious that himself and his team of assistants would need more time to consolidate on their job. CSN should kindly let us know when the interim coach is going to release the list for the match against Ghana.

  • JimmyBall 2 years ago

    @Gabriel… Calling the team just at second round stage is needless. Did Tunisian president have to act that way or do we love football more than Tunisian with a better local league where nationals troop to watch in stadia often. If we were playing say Semi-finals or finals one can understand but second round is too early and needless. When Abacha did it during Atlanta ’96 it was after the semifinal just on the eve of playing the finals against Argentina… A president who has serious work to contemplate should have imbibed decorum to know victory laps were still a Longshot… Politicians (NFF Chairman and Sports Minister) just wanted to use the team and opportunity for cheap shine… It backfired! The president call possibly gave the team an oveebloated ego because nothing was achieved in first half when the game was still there to draw first blood and consolidate during the second half… It’s time we begin to critically assess all those hairstylist players we hype in our midfield, that’s the engine of any team. I absolve our defence of any any blame… that shot came in front of Ndidi and Aribo who were supposed to properly screen threats to our defence… the opposition striker was allowed too yard to snipe our goalkeeper without challenge… it’s similar to the shot allowed to Benaccer during semifinals of AFCON 2019 and struck our crossbar…

  • Vincent Animo 2 years ago

    If Mr. Eguavoen could steady Super Eagles and give them a new lease of life within a short time, he needs to be given more time. I fully agree with Ben Akwuegbu. The way and manner Eguavoen charges locked down MoSalah in the match against the pharaohs of Egypt remains the maths the World is still solving.

    • KangA 2 years ago

      . . . . and that was how the Tunisians locked out Moses Simon and Chukwueze. And yet there was no change in tactics.

      • Vincent Animo 2 years ago

        Assuming we had Osimhen and Odion, then that tactics would have worked. Unfortunately, the available strikers in Cameroon weren’t good enough so the coach relied on Moses to do the dirty job from the flanks. Remember everything about their arrangement were done in a hurry. Our striking force apart from Olayinka was so weak that they lack ball control. All this affected the match against Tunisia. Whatever it is, two weeks is not enough to deliver on that big stage, therefore, the football governing body should give the team more time to achieve results most especially now that the World cup playoffs are in two months time.

    • Greenturf 2 years ago

      Because Salah was lost in an unusual position.Had Egypt seen Eguavoen team play before our meeting I don’t think it would have been an easy ride.
      They have a very experienced coach who knows how to approach every game with different tactics to suit his team.
      Modern day football boils down to tactics.Approaching different teams with different system,grinding out results whether in a beautiful or ugly fashion does it even matter?What matters is progression.
      Rohr would have approached the second round against Tunisia in a 3.5.2 format.Im sure he would have won probably ugly however,a win still is a win.

      • Marvelous 2 years ago

        Rohr would have changed tactics to his rigid but successfull formation. Either 5-3-2 or 3-5-2. But Equavon was clueless, thinking he can play entertainment football in second round. A typical Nigerian coach full of boastfulness and pride. His only game plan was Moses Simon.

        Rohr didn’t build eagles on a particular player. Any team that builds around a single player is liable to fail when that player is locked out.

        • Nelson 2 years ago

          Apart from Moses Simon, who was the super eagles player of his ilk? If there was going to be any change of tactics, that would have call the strikers to action but unfortunately the strikers available for Eguavoen weren’t good enough as they could barely trap the ball in front of goal. Eguavoen would need time to work on all the departments since two weeks was too short. Hopefully, our goal notchers, Osimhen and Odion will be available for the playoffs.

          • Ife Oni 2 years ago

            Thanks Nelson, I don’t even know what tactics they were expecting from misfit strikers. I noticed that it was the wingers scoring and creating scoring opportunities in the games we played.

          • Ayphillydegreat 2 years ago

            Who are the misfit strikers?? Awoniyi and Iheanacho or Sadiq?? Guess what they all scored and provided assists in the games they featured. You have a coach who’s only tactics is to tell the boys to go out there and have fun. In the knockout stage where tactics and formation variations really matters he stuck on wing play with Simon and Chukwueze who was ineffective all through the tournament. When I was watching the Guinea Bissau game I said to myself Ajayi should start ahead of Omeruo in the next game. But our coaches only play with names. I’m sure people see the reason Rohr bench some players because they can not be trusted. Let Eguavoen continue so that he complete the disaster. I can guarantee you that if you have a technically sound coach on the bench against Ghana just kiss the WorldCup ticket goodbye. They’re already playing their mind games knowing that exactly what the Tunisians did to get that win. Beautiful and sexy football can only take you out of the group stage and knock you out in the round of 16 of ordinary AFCON where reaching the semis is practically our birthright.

          • Ayphillydegreat 2 years ago

            **If you don’t have a technically sound coach on the bench against Ghana just kiss the WorldCup ticket goodbye**

          • Greenturf 2 years ago

            Why are you lots saying the same thing,Eguavoen only had two weeks?If two weeks wasn’t enough to successfully prosecute a nations cup why was the former coach who had been with the team for over five years got the boot two weeks to a major competition?Whose fault is it?
            Eguavoen himself dismissed the time factor when put across questions from journalists.The same Eguavoen said he has been with the team and followed closely it’s progress as technical director so the players are not alien to him.
            You guys should stop making excuses!
            Eguavoen has never made a success of any national assignment.He has failed with the under 17s,the Olympics,local club sides and most recently the super eagles!
            Aren’t you guys had enough of his failings?Damn!

          • Greenturf 2 years ago

            Agreed @Ayphyllidegreat,the Ajayi I saw against Guinea Bissau is better than Omeruo.
            A 3.5.2 formation of

            Aina Sanusi


            Should have won convincingly against Tunisia.

          • So suddenly Awoniyi and Sadiq whom you accused the former coach of no featuring because they were scoring goals for fun in their clubsides is now misfit. Nigeria with double mouth sha, now your eyes has cleared. Didn’t we tell you club football is different from national team? Instead of bury your head in shame you are all still here wailing as usual. #shame.

          • Kenny 2 years ago

            He had the chance to invite Cyril Dessert but he decided not to.

  • Omo9ja 2 years ago

    Blaming president Buhari for that defeat against Tunisia doesn’t sound good. Although his reactions towards the country may reflect on Super Eagles. If you know you know.

    Blame the coach who selected a squad that wasn’t on merit.

    A coach who decided to waste a slot for a striker that has nothing to offer the team.

    We saw his best against Cape Verde in Lagos. That match should be his last if Nigeria is a country that values its name.

    How on earth coach Eguavoen selected Akpeyi, John Noble, Ighalo and Shehu over Dessers, Ejaria, Nwobodo, Adeleye, Osagwe and Ajiboye.

    I will support coach Eguavoen on one condition. If he, Mr. No nonsense will be sincere with his selections, I will back him but if he continues like the way he did during the Afcon then I will turn my back like the way I did to Oga Rohr after the world cup in Russia.

    However, Dessers scored four fantastic goals in a single match for Feyenoord yesterday. CSN have not arried the news yet. Dessers played for 90 minutes in a test game and he almost made it five. Dessers is in form of his life at the moment and if the new gaffer of the Super Eagles is really want to qualify to the world cup, Dessers have to be on his list. I guess coach Eguavoen will be the man though but he have to be more focused and not biased this time around.

    I love one thing about Dessers, the way he positioning himself in the team make him stand out among our strikers. Even Osimhen will do more than enough to bench Dessers in the Super Eagles.

    Nonetheless, coach Eguavoen wasted a slot for Ighalo and if Nigeria is a country where by you will be accountable for your actions then coach Eguavoen and Ighalo should be fined.

    Blame nobody but coach Eguavoen for what happened against Tunisia.

    All in all, I will give him another chance. If NFF could give Oga Rohr another chance, I think Mr. No nonsense deserves another chance. He did well just for a week training and he took Africa by storm in Cameroon and he be came the best coach of the tournament.

    Last but not least, NFF need to strengthen the coaching crew. Our own should lead the team to Qatar if we qualify. For that reason, NFF should replace Salisu Yusuf, Aigbogun and Agu because the three coaches failed to help coach Eguavoen when Super Eagles were struggling against Tunisia.

    NFF should also ask coach Agu to step aside. He has spent almost six years with the team but he has never delivered a world class goalie instead, he asked Akpeyi and John Noble to join the team. These are the weaknesses of the coaching department. NFF must fixed the problem be we meet Ghana in March.

    Now, no time to check time. If NFF are so serious with what they are doing, they should make announcement of the new coach before next month.

    If NFF retained Salisu Yusuf, Aigbogun and Agu then no hope. Corruption have just started in the Super Eagles. Ighalo will come back. Akpeyi will come back. John Noble will definitely come back into the team while the likes of Dessers, Nwobodo, Adeleye, Ejaria, Lookman, Adeboye and Osagwe will not be selected for the world cup qualifiers.

    Our own should use the opportunity they have now to select the players based on current form and merit. Ire o. God bless Nigeria!!!

  • Raphael 2 years ago

    Ghanaians are in talks with 5 new players. We are here talking about what didn’t happen, and all that trash.

    Eguavoen should send invite to
    V. Moses

    We have less than 2 months to go and I wouldn’t want a situation where the football federation will wait for 2 weeks again.

    • Greenturf 2 years ago

      Who is this Orode?Iwobi is ruled out due to the red card he had against Tunisia.

      • Kenny 2 years ago

        Iwobi is not a footballer. He should go and Improve himself. Football is not by dragging midfield position it is by impact. Even at Everton he plays nothing shadow of himself.

    • Ife Oni 2 years ago

      Please add Olisa Ndah and Ramon from MFN to the list. Thanks.

    • Greenturf 2 years ago

      Invitations can’t be sent out now,far too early me think.Apparently,a lot could happen between now and then.
      Players get injured and are ruled out.
      There are time set out for players invitations the Nff are aware of that.

  • Chike 2 years ago

    @Raphael, I would prefer Ejuke to Amoo. Your list is okay anyway.

  • Yeye ex player looking for cheap popularity. Nobody is blaming him for the result as every sane person knows that has to with tactical deficiency but in truth that call by Mr president is needless when they are not playing semi or final. Be that as it may Akwuegbu should keep shut and enjoy the soup from the pot he and his cronies cooked.

  • Raphael, replace Iwobi with Ejuke pls. Are you sure Eguavoen will accept your list?

  • SD Special Delivery Jones 2 years ago

    Don’t blame Buhari, blame brainless Rohr haters and useless SD Jones Impersonators. Those whom the gods wish to destroy, they first made mad. They must be mad, literally mad as fans to allow a world class coach hitting his targets to be sacked. It is like watching a people bitterly engaged in digging their own funeral parlour. Now we are mourning crashing out of the Afcon after murdering our own campaign by sacking Rohr. It passes belief how any Rohr hater would have the courage to even show their face in public after condemning the Super Eagles to a lifetime of ruinous failure. You shameless lot including this worthless SD Jones Impersonator.

    • Greenturf 2 years ago

      Sports minister Sunday Dare should bear the brunt of super eagles ouster in Cameroon.

      • Yes he should he is the architect of everything. He has started again I heard their meeting end deadlock due to disagreement on Eguavon issue.

  • Guys this is not funny at all these so called rulers don’t know the mess they have brought to nigeria i wish they know they should’ve hide their face by now and start resigning one after the other do you guys know that after super eagles defeated Egypt in first match gained nine points the fear factor began to arise unfortunately our players has lost that passion they should have been oozing for nigeria i shook my head what these politicians has caused.


    Na look we dey look.

  • Abbey 2 years ago

    D Coach should be blamed, we lost bcs of wrong selection of players, tribalism should not apply when on international matches, NFA officials should stop disgracing & wasting d country resources bcs of their selfish interest pls

  • Ralph 2 years ago

    No serious person would blame Buhari for the SE loss, and I cant believe someone is calling the SE squad depleted, these are the same guys everyone was singing praises to during the group matches, i never heard anyone giving the Tunisian a single chance, they were so poor in the group stages, and was badly affected by COVID, even their fans gave them no chance, they mopped out a plan and floored the SE. We have more than enough material to see off that match but we have nothing coming out from the technical crew, they just sat on the bench making noise without saying nothing. Keep that same crew on the bench against Ghana and you are out and cold.

  • It’s only an Ignorant person that would dismiss the spiritual influence on the physical…….Zambia Afcon win should clear their ignorance……. Football has a spirit that follow it and if you like have all the tactics and knowledge you still need the elements to favour you for your tactics to work……. Calling someone who has directly or indirectly caused so much bloodshed past and present on the day you are playing such a game?……..The country is bleeding currently and you think the elements (earth water and air) are happy about it?…….why did Eguaveon tactics suddenly become ineffective?……Watch the conference call buhari made with the boys and observe the mood in the room…… Something happened in that room but many canal people would not see it……A friend saw that video and immediately went to stake SE to lose with 10k and he smile home with almost 70k because Tunisia had a very high odd to win…….I was asking him why he was doing such a thing and he laughed at me that my eyes are open but I don’t see with it……..Jinx is part of football since time immemorial just go and do your research well.

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