President of Nigeria Football Federation, Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau has reacted to a number of matches by Nigeria’s representative teams across the world on Wednesday, praising Rivers United FC for standing strong to emerge as the only Nigeria team left in continental club competitions after a midweek of action across Africa.
The Pride of Rivers dug their feet into the turf of the Benina Martys Stadium in Benghazi, Libya to earn a 1-1 draw with Al Naser FC, and qualified for the CAF Confederation Cup group stage on 6-1 aggregate. Their feat came hours after fellow Nigeria flagbearers Plateau United imploded in a rather poor final four minutes to lose 0-3 to Al Akhdar FC on the same turf, wiping out their three-goal advantage from the first leg.
“On behalf of the NFF Board and the generality of Nigeria Football stakeholders, I congratulate Rivers United on their credible outing and I wish them success in the group stage. They did well to sustain the Nigeria flag in the competition.
“On their part, Bayelsa Queens also gave their best in the semi finals of the CAF Women Champions League in Morocco against home team, ASFAR FC. I was hoping they would reach the Final so that we would go and support them but they were not disgraced all the same. They should take the lessons from the defeat to do better next time. They should also fight hard for the bronze medals in order not to come back home empty-handed.”
The Queens lost by the odd goal to ASFAR and will now play Simba Queens of Tanzania for the third place, while ASFAR battle Cup holders Mamelodi Sundowns of South Africa in the final.
“As I have reiterated several times, the new NFF Board will provide tremendous encouragement for Nigeria women football to return strongly to its rightful place on the African continent and at global level,” Gusau added.
Reacting to the Super Eagles’ 2-0 defeat against World Cup-bound Costa Rica in San Jose in the early hours of Wednesday, Gusau challenged the coaching crew and the players to take hard lessons from the loss and commit to returning to winning ways henceforth.
“Costa Rica are heading to the World Cup and were highly spurred on by their fans, but then we are Nigeria and we should always have it in mind that our people want us to win all the time. I am not saying they did not give a good performance; they should know that winning matters.
“The new NFF Board will be concerned with players that dorn our green-and-white going out for wins, whether they play in competitive and friendly matches. It is not enough to try or to make an effort; winning mentality is key. They tried their best in the game but they should learn from this and know that next time, they have to go all out to win or avoid defeat.”
Oscar Duarte opened the scoring for Los Ticos seven minutes into the game when he sliced past goalkeeper Kayode Bankole off a free-kick from the left by Joel Campbell.
Attack –minded defender Dominion Ohaka danced his way into the Los Ticos’ eighteen-yard box in the 18th minute but his shot flew over the bar.
Bankole made a number of good saves but the Eagles’ forwards could not mine fortune from the few opportunities that came their way, and in the 73rd minute, Kendall Waston headed over the Nigeria goalkeeper and a defender into the net, off a pull-out from the left by Campbell.