Chairman of the NFF Technical and Development Committee, Barrister Chris Green was happy with the Super Eagles’ 3-1 win over Red Lions of Luxembourg in an international friendly at the Stade Josy Barthel on Tuesday.
After Arsenal FC’s Alex Iwobi fluffed a one-on-one chance with goalkeeper Anthony Morris in the 11th minute and Brown Ideye fumbled with an opportunity eight minutes later, Ideye himself opened the scoring nine minutes from half time when he tucked home after Morris dropped a scorching Ogenyi Onazi shot from the edge of the box.
Manchester City starlet Kelechi Iheanacho, who scored the only goal in the defeat of Mali in Rouen, France on Friday, was a constant threat throughout, and had a shot blocked in the 24thminute before Morris was lucky to get a hand to his screamer on the dot of half time.
After a ding dong stretch in the opening period of the second half, Iheanacho tucked home Nigeria’s second in the 69th minute after Moses Simon capitalized on an error by Morris to run free of the home defence and square to the England –based forward.
Four minutes later, an audacious Moses Simon free –kick went narrowly off target, and then substitute Odion Ighalo missed a sitter with 10 minutes to go.
Errors by Raheem Lawal and Kenneth Omeruo let in the impressive Vincent Thill on the dot of time, with a goal that gave real joy to the home crowd. However, the Eagles would have the last word, with Ighalo shooting in from close range after good work by Iheanacho.
It was the first international goal for Thill, who plays for Metz in France and is courted by German champions Bayern Munich.
“I can say that now, we have a young and ambitious group that we can be proud of. With the exception of two or three people, this is the Super Eagles’ team going forward. I am happy at the output of the squad in these two matches.
“I am also happy about the technical crew. The changes they made in both matches turned both games around. The NFF will ensure that the coaches get good exposure and necessary education to become even better managers,” said Green, who watched the match alongside NFF Executive Committee members Ahmed Yusuf Fresh and Sharif Rabiu Inuwa.
Green added that the focus of the NFF is now on the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying series starting in October. “Yes, we see this team as the nucleus of the squad that will prosecute the FIFA World Cup qualifiers. For sure, the NFF will ensure that we make good use of the FIFA windows before then.”
Respected Belgian tactician, Tom Saintfiet (a household name in Africa), who watched the game at the Stade Josy Barthel, told thenff.com: “Certainly, it is always more difficult to play the so –called smaller teams. They go all out at you because they really don’t have much to lose.
“The Super Eagles had a great game in the second half because they made good use of space and created several chances. It was a bit tight in the first half because Luxembourg refused to come out to play and concentrated on frustrating Nigeria. I think these matches (including the one against Mali in France) were good for the Super Eagles.”
Also at the match were officials of the Embassy of Nigeria in Belgium, which oversees the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Head of Chancery, Ahmed Sulu Gambari and Isiaka Abdulkadir, administrative attaché, expressed their joy over the Eagles’ performance.
“We heard of the victory over Mali in France and came here with a lot of expectations. We are very happy the Eagles responded immediately after Luxembourg scored, to leave the scoreline respectable. This young team has shown a lot of promise,” said Sulu Gambari.
The sentiment was shared by the leaders of the 350 –strong Nigerian community in Luxembourg, as expressed by the Chairman, Mr. Kayode Oke and the secretary, Alhaji Babatunde Otukoya.
“I can tell you we are happy because of this result,” stated Oke. “We told the people of Luxembourg before the match our country is very big and much stronger in football. Now, the Super Eagles have proved us right.”