Ex Green Eagles goalkeeper Emmanuel Okala has praised the Super Eagles for getting to the semifinals of the Africa Cup of Nations but expressed worries in a department of the team that still needs to be worked on.
In his playing days, Okala was an imposing mountain of a goalkeeper who played a key role in Enugu Rangers continental conquest in the 1977 Africa Winners Cup.
Nigeria triumphed over the Bafana Bafana of South Africa in the quarterfinals of the Afcon to book their place in the semifinals of the competition.
Speaking to Complete Sports, Okala, a member of the Afcon 1980 winning squad, hailed the attitude and team spirit that Gernot Rohr’s men showed against the Bafana Bafana.
“I watched a Super Eagles team that showed they are indeed serious in the AFCON tournament.
” I was impressed, I believe every other Nigeria was, not just about the fact they won, but also about the team’s quality of play,” the 1978 Footballer of the Year opined.
The four-time FA Cup winner is delighted with how the group stage loss to Madagascar helped the playing and coaching personnel to sharpen their focus for the task ahead.
“They seem to get better in every game. Surely they have learnt from the Madagascar blip and are now out to fire from every cylinder.
” Odion Ighalo was the standout performer against Cameroon. Certainly, he was going to be a marked man against South Africa and Rohr responded well by drafting a different match plan that caught the Bafana Bafana side off their strides, hence the goals came from the scorers they least expected.
“It shows the strength of the team, their quality. Every player on the field is a potential scorer,” the 68-year old Okala stressed.
Despite his glowing tribute to the Super Eagles team and her handlers, the Green Eagles veteran goalkeeper expressed deep concerns about the team’s goalkeeping department.
“We still have some worries in the goalkeeping area. It is not about sounding as an alarmist, but that’s a fact,” the ex-Super Eagles goalkeeper trainer said.
Nigeria meet Algeria on Sunday.