By James Agberebi:
Former Nigeria international Friday Ekpo has revealed that the Super Eagles’ loss of concentration in a crucial moment against the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon in Yaounde cost them the ticket to the Italia 1990 World Cup, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.
The Eagles needed at least a draw against Cameroon in Yaounde to qualify from their group for the play-off round of the 1990 World Cup qualifiers but lost 1-0 hence crashing out.
In the reverse fixture earlier against Cameroon in Ibadan, the Super Eagles won 2-0.
Also in the Super Eagles and Cameroon 1990 World Cup qualifier group were Angola and Gabon.
Reminiscing on the painful loss, Ekpo who was in action for the Super Eagles against Cameroon in the game, advised the current Eagles players to learn from their mistake.
“I will always remember the match we lost 1-0 against Cameroon in Yaounde,” Ekpo, a bronze medal winner at the 1992 Africa Cup of Nations with the Super Eagles, told Completesportsnigeria. com.
“It was the match which was meant to qualify either of us for the 1990 FIFA World Cup in Italy. Each time I remember the aggressive and robust play of the Cameroonians, I always feel pity for the current Super Eagles players.
“I don’t always want to attribute the loss to Cameroon to the death of Sam Okwaraji, I always focus on the game. We did everything possible to win the match. All the intimidation meted out to us, we withstood it but it was lack of concentration on our own part that caused us. I remember we lost Alloy Agu to injury which forced us to bring on David Ngodigha.
“So after the change, we were still not balanced when they were about to take a corner kick and we failed to track down one of their best headers of the ball Oman Biyik who directed it into the net.
“We dominated the game and lost chances too. Both countries wanted the qualification but I think they wanted it more and that’s why they got it.”
Ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers between the Super Eagles and Cameroon Uyo on September 1 and Yaounde three days later, Ekpo advised that coach Gernot Rohr must come up with the best match plan to secure victory for the Eagles.
He said: “They must prepare very well for this game. And I must emphasize that we need players who are regulars for their clubs both local and foreign-based. Not bench warmers who will not contribute anything to the cause.
“The match is not going to be easy which means the coach need to do a lot of work especially the tactics to use. And the players must bring their wealth of experience, skills and ability for this very important game.”
The Eagles currently top African qualifying Group B on six points, four points ahead of second-placed Cameroon who have two points.
In third position are Zambia on one point while Algeria are bottom, also on one point.