Reactions have been trailing the ouster of the Flying Eagles from the U-20 African Youth Championship next year after a 4-3 loss to Sudan in Saturday’s final qualifying match.
Flying Eagles coach Emmanuel Amuneke has blamed his players for losing to Sudan in the second leg Amuneke expressed his disappointment that the team will not be able to defend the title their predecessors won in 2015.
“We are all disappointed. Everybody is disappointed, players are disappointed, personally I’m disappointed because a lot of fans came today to see the team but unfortunately, the team was not in a position to make them happy.
”We all are sad but life has to move on, this is football. Since we came back from Sudan I’ve been saying it that it wouldn’t be an easy game because in the first leg we were aware that they are a very good side. They came here with the mindset to win and unfortunately for us we conceded some goals that shouldn’t have happened.”
”The goalkeeper (Akpan Udoh) today was not at his best. For me, it is a collective issue, the team today was not in their best. Even when we were ahead, we were not able to manage the game to our own advantage. The federation know what they have to do.” he added.
”We could not make it so we must tell ourselves the truth. We have played a lot of games, we have won away and at home. All we can hope is for them to develop in their career and continue to grow so that they will be useful to the nation when the time comes.” Amuneke expressed.
Meanwhile, the Nigeria Football Federation first vice-president, Seyi Akinwunmi, has called on Nigerians to forgive the Flying Eagles following the team’s defeat.
Despite winning the first leg 2-1 in Omdurman, the Flying Eagles who drew 5-5 on aggregate, lost out on the away goals rule.
According to Akinwunmi, who had appealed to the youngsters to shelve their plan to boycott the match because of owed allowances, the defeat will go a long way in improving the players in future.
“We want to let the players know that sometimes you learn from adversity. I emplore Nigerians to please forgive and understand that it’s a work in progress, they will become champions of the world. Everybody has seen them play. What happened was just a freak,” Akinwunmi said.
The defeat also means they will not be at the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup taking place in South Korea.
In addition, the Sudan U-20 coach Mohammed Mazda hailed his side’s fighting spirit and determination after they booked a place in the 2017 Africa U-21 Nations Cup in Zambia saying the Flying Eagles paid for underrating his charges.
”Despite losing the first leg at home, we still believed we could still qualify and that reflected in our performance today. Your team thought everthing was over after the first leg, but we showed them the other side of football. I want to congratulate my players for their effort. They wanted the win more than Nigeria and that is why we are going to Zambia.”