Chairman of the NFF Technical and Development Committee, Barrister Chris Green has expressed confidence that the Super Eagles will qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations championships, despite Saturday’s defeat by South Africa in Uyo.
The three –time African champions suffered a shock 2-0 reverse against the Bafana Bafana on Matchday 1 of the Cameroon 2019 qualifiers, and Nigeria now lie third in Group E, following Libya’s 5-1 defeat of Seychelles on Friday.
However, Green, a ranking member of the NFF Executive Committee, who held the same position when Nigeria won a third Africa Cup of Nations title in South Africa in 2013, played at the FIFA Confederations Cup and reached the Round of 16 at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil, said there is no need to start pushing the panic button.
“It was not the result we worked or prayed for, but the truth is we have only lost one of six matches in the series, and this wake –up call has come at the right time. It has also come when we still have the opportunity to rectify things and prepare harder for the remaining matches of the FIFA World Cup qualifying race.
“Losing to South Africa was never in our calculation, but it has happened. Someone once said that when the going gets tough, the tough gets going. Now, everyone, including the technical crew and the players, know that we must work harder than we ever done, dig deeper than we have ever done and show the kind of commitment greater than we have ever shown in the two qualifying campaigns.”
Two second half goals by Tokelo Rantie and Percy Tau condemned Nigeria to a first –ever defeat by South Africa in a competitive game at senior level, but Green insisted the lessons have been learnt.
“There are so many things to take forward from this game. One of them is that this type of reverse must never happen to the Super Eagles again.
“But now, we have to focus squarely on the FIFA World Cup qualifiers because the race to the Cup of Nations would only resume in nine months’ time. In two-and-half months, we have classical World Cup battles with Cameroon. That is the only issue on our minds at the moment.”
Meanwhile, a meeting of the NFF Technical and Development Committee will take place at the NFF Secretariat, Abuja on Tuesday morning, with Super Eagles’ Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr, in attendance. Green said the issue of the battles with Cameroon in September is top of the agenda.