Lawal wants Eagles to salvage Nigeria’s pride against Tunisia
Former International, Garba Lawal yesterday advised Coach Gernot Rohr to field his best legs in the game against Tunisia, as Nigeria attempts to win today’s third place match of the Total Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) at the Al Salam Stadium in Egypt.
Nigeria lost 1-2 to Algeria in the first semifinal, while Tunisia succumbed to Senegal on penalties after their match had ended 1-1 in regulation time. Both teams will play to determine the third best country in the AFCON.
Lawal, who said Nigerians deserved more than the third place in the tournament, felt it was better for the Eagles to come back with the bronze medal than nothing from the land of the Pharaohs.
“Our loss to Algeria despite our expectations is football for you. Taking part in the Nations Cup is about winning, and if you don’t win, you will be disappointed as a coach and as a player. You can’t take away the feelings of the loss from the manager, players, and supporters as well because everybody was truly disappointed.
“In tomorrow’s (today) game, I expect him to bring in his normal line up because it is all about winning the match. The coach is the one that will decide who to play and I believe the Eagles may want to come out stronger in the game and play for pride,” he said.
The former Super Eagles’ utility player, who has three AFCON silver and a bronze medal in his kitty, added from his experience that the only thing Nigerians wanted to watch were the Eagles playing in the final of any major competition.
Anything less is seen as a total failure on the part of the team, he said, adding, “In Nigeria, once Eagles go for a tournament, they don’t want to hear that you are playing for a third place as against playing for the cup. The Eagles have been getting to the quarterfinals, semifinals stages of the Nations Cup, but that is not what they want. It is the cup that matters to them.
“We have only won the cup three times and since we couldn’t get to the final this time around, Eagles should just go there and win the bronze medal for pride. It is better they win a bronze medal than not winning anything.
“Nobody is happy in the area where I live. Each time people see me, they keep telling me that the Nations Cup is over. But when I tell them that we still have the third place game to play for, they say they will not watch it since Nigeria is not playing in the final. This clearly shows our passion for football and how people love football in this country. It has happened this way and there is nothing we can do about our loss to Algeria again,” he said.
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