Nigeria’s 2013 Africa Cup of Nations hero Sunday Mba has voiced his sentiments over Nigeria’s failure to qualify for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations.
Mba scored twice at the 2013 Afcon, his second the winner as the Super Eagles overpowered Burkina Faso 1-0 in the final in Johannesburg to become African champions for the third time.
The CA Bastia midfielder said failure to make it to the Afcon just two years after emerging champions underlines “falling standards” in Nigerian football.
“I was actually shocked after we drew (our final qualifying) match against South Africa. It was a painful moment because it meant that we would not be going to Equatorial Guinea,” Mba told supersport.com.
Nigeria failed to reach the 2012 Afcon finals co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea but were crowned kings of the continent a year later and Mba sees a similar script playing out yet again.
The 26-year-old predicts that the Super Eagles will rise like a Phoenix from the ashes “if the rights steps are taken.”
“Standards have fallen and we have to go back to the basics of giving the home-based players a chance to shine.
“The national team coaches appear to be doing that from what I saw of our last two games against the Ivory Coast and Yemen.
“It is a very sad thing for the football world for an Afcon to be held without Nigeria but we must strive to bounce back from this,” he said.