Super Eagles mercurial midfielder Alex Iwobi is still basking in the euphoria of Nigeria’s victory against Lesotho yesterday which capped a fantastic qualifying campaign that saw the Super Eagles cruise into the tournament in style.
Admittedly, there were some hiccups along the road notably the infamous 4:4 draw against Sierra Leone in Nigeria on November 13th last year. But in the true Nigerian spirit and like the phoenix, the Super Eagles rose from the ashes of that disappointment to put a dagger through the hearts of the Beninois on Saturday before lashing Lesotho with 3 strokes of the Super Eagles cane in Lagos yesterday.
Victor Osimhen opened the scoring in 23 minutes having latched on to an Iheanacho lob before finishing with poise. And just to prove that he offers way more than scoring goals, the Napoli man turned provider in 50 minutes in magnanimously laying it on a plate for Etebo who reminded all and sundry of his 2016 Olympic heroics with a cultured finish from close range.
Then it was the turn of the man-of-the-hour: permit me to introduce Paul (the conqueror of the Belgian League) Onuachu.
Doing what he does best, the giant striker bought himself valuable Real Estate inside the 18 yard box before sealing the deal with a thunderous shot in 83 minutes that sent reverberations back to his base in Belgium.
If you were to exclude the games that Onuachu played less than 20 minutes for Nigeria, what is left reveals a 1 goal per 2 games centre forward for the Super Eagles which is pretty impressive.
And on a bigger picture, the collective outcome of this round of matches reveals a Super Eagles on the comeback trail back towards greatness.
I wrote recently that statistics earlier in the year suggested a team in decline under Gernot Rohr recently. Funny what a difference of 4 days can bring in international football!
Speaking on social media after the heartwarming victory against Lesotho, Alex Iwobi said: “Qualified & Unbeaten."
Not only that, the Super Eagles have now only lost once in their last 10 games having won 5 and drawn 4 with the last 2 ending in well deserved and much welcomed victories.
The results of the October friendlies (against Tunisia and Algeria) left a lot to be desired while the back-to-back draws against Sierra Leone in November sunk the Super Eagles to an all time low.
With the eyes of the world on them for the assignments against Benin and Lesotho, they needed emphatic performances and these, Rohr and his boys delivered with gusto.
And this, they deserve all the encomium coming their way.
Well done boys!
They can now approach the World Cup qualifiers with renewed confidence and a belief that they can get the job done when it matters most.
As for Gernot Rohr, his handling of the team has built a bridge between the Super Eagles and the fans where the traffic of love, adoration, gratitude and realistic expectations are flowing on either side.
And this connection is crucial for the fans do not want to go back to the days of being disillusioned with the national team.
Hopefully, things can only continue to get better from here on in.
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