Soccer pundits in Lagos on Saturday expressed mixed feelings on the Super Eagles 2-2 draw with Mexico in a friendly even as they urged improvement.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the friendly, which was played in Houston, U.S., was part of Nigeria’s preparations for a number of forthcoming tournaments.
They include two 2014 FIFA World Cup qualifiers and three matches in the June 15 to 30, 2013, FIFA Confederations Cup, to be hosted by Brazil.
Nigeria, which leads group B of the World Cup qualifiers with five points midway into the series, will be away to Kenya on June 5, and Namibia, also away, a week later.
NAN recalls that on Oct. 14, 2007, Nigeria and Mexico also played out a 2-2 draw in a friendly at the Estadio Olimpico Benito Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico.
In 1995, during a playoff match at the Intercontinental Championship (predecessor of the FIFA Confederations Cup) in Saudi Arabia, Mexico beat Nigeria 5-4 on penalties after both teams were deadlocked 1-1 at full and extra time.
Christian Chukwu, a former Coach of the Eagles, told NAN on phone that the result was okay, noting, however, that the Coach Stephen Keshi-led technical crew and the players needed to work harder.
Chukwu said the result of the match showed that the Eagles prepared well for the match and only needed to intensify their efforts in subsequent matches.
Paul Hamilton, also a former Eagles’ Coach, said that the match was interesting through the 90 minutes of play and “kept one glued to the screen’’.
Hamilton said it was unfortunate that the likes of Victor Moses, Uche Kalu and other key players did not play because of injury.
He urged Keshi and the technical crew not to relent but should intensify their efforts because Nigerians were already anticipating the World Cup appearance.
However, Tayo Balogun, a sports analyst, was displeased with the outcome of the match, saying that “Nigeria played like it was the team with 10 players’’.
Balogun, who noted that Nigeria pressed throughout the match, said that there were loopholes in the Eagles’ defence and attack.
“The Mexicans were one man down and the match looked like we were the one with one man down, and our defence and attack was not compact,’’ he said.
Balogun urged Keshi to go back to the drawing board and adopt a strategy that would make the Eagles always mount pressure on their opponents.