We won’t forget you, Nigerians sing praises of Onuachu, AFCON match winner
The rejected stone has become the chief cornerstone! That’s how some soccer buffs described Paul Onuachu whose 93rd minute audacious header was all the Super Eagles needed to pocket all three points in a dodgy match against a stubborn Squirrels of Benin Republic side.
The win over Benin placed Nigeria atop the group with 11 points, meaning the Eagles have won the group with one match to spare. Benin Republic is second with 7 points making it impossible to upstage Nigeria’s leadership of the group even with victory in their last match.
Some Nigerian said they will not forget Paul Onuachu, not only for giving the nation three points but more because he was not initially considered for call up. He only made the list from the reserve position after an invitee failed to turn up. The victory meant that Nigeria has not lost any match in the qualifier after five matches.
The 2021 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) will hold in Cameroon.
Onuachu headed home the lone goal after he substituted Leicester City’s Kelechi Iheanacho in the 71st minute, which many enthusiasts believed was a wrong decision. Henry Onyekuru was thought to be the odd man to be substituted after he failed to find his bearing in the second half.
Nigeria’s qualification and leadership of the group was sealed after a goalless game between Lesotho and Sierra Leone. The Super Eagles will confront the Crocodiles of Lesotho at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos, in what will be their first encounter in Nigeria’s commercial and economic capital in 10 years.
Mr Akosa Sani, businessman, said that the eagles may have taken the Benin Republic team for granted for the first half of the match, but was happy they got the three points.
For Mr Friday Chukwu, also a businessman, he was quite excited by the goal, stressing that he celebrated it as if it was the qualifying goal.
Çhukwu commended Coach Gernot Rohr for the foresight, noting that he was not happy when Iheanacho was replaced by the goal scorer.
Mr Segun Adejaye, an IT expert, said it would have been disastrous if the Super Eagles had failed to score, stressing that there were rooms for improvement for the team.
Adejaye, however, was not happy with the coaching crew substitutions, stressing that the players may be good but faulted the technical crew.
Mr Oluwasegun Thompson, a student, said although Nigeria won the match, he did not see any impact from the coach early enough in the game.
“I am very happy over the lone goal. I am not disappointed with the team, they did well. Even if they had played a draw, I commend the coaching crew and the players,” said Mr Rotimi Alegbe.
Mr Peter Amos said when the substitutions were carried out, he knew that something positive was coming at the end of the game.
NAN quoted Coach Rohr as saying before the match that his wards would approach the game with the intention of picking all three points.
“We are keen to restore a winning mentality to the group ahead of very crucial matches that we have ahead.
“It is important that we earn victories in the upcoming matches so that we get into our paces for the FIFA World Cup qualifiers. There will be tough games to come and we need to be rearing to go,” Rohr said.
- By our Reporter, with additional Agency reports