Nigeria needed a pair of penalties to shoot down their West African neighbours, drawing out mixed reactions from the Liberian coach
Head coach of the Liberian national football team Peter Butler has hailed the Super Eagles as the better team following his side’s 2-0 defeat to the former African champions at the Grand Stade de Tangier, Morocco, on Saturday.
Nigeria scored twice from the penalty spot to record their tenth-ever victory over the Liberians and their fourth in five Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifying matches.
Big favourites for the win, the Super Eagles were already on the scoresheet as early as the 14th minute when Napoli ace Victor Osimhen made no mistake from 12 yards after Kelechi Iheanacho had been hacked down by Liberian goalkeeper Boison Wynney.
The Gernot Rohr-led Eagles, however, met stiff opposition from the Lone Star and had to wait until the closing stages before adding the game’s second.
Again goalkeeper Wynney brought down Osimhen, allowing captain Ahmed Musa to fire home from the spot with virtually the last kick of the encounter.
In his post-match press conference, Liberian coach Butler had a few positive words about a Super Eagles side about 114 places above the Lone Star on the FIFA ranking.
“Congratulations to Nigeria. They deserve to go through to the next round,” the former West Ham United star said.
“They have very good players, obviously well-drilled and well-coached.
“Over the 90 minutes, I think we gave a very account of ourselves. We played some good football. We made a few changes. We were always going to be struggling for goals.
“We got beaten by a better team, a very good team, and they’ll go on to meet the cream of Africa in the next phase.”
With the Super Eagles ranked 36th in the world and with six appearances at the FIFA World Cup, Butler may have expected more from Rohr’s men in Morocco.
And after praising the three-time Afcon kings, the Englishman aimed a subtle dig at a team filled with millionaires but struggled to make a more meaningful impact in the final third aside from the penalties.
“I don’t recall a shot on target from Nigeria,” added Butler. “They have got a couple of shots off target.
“They’ve got good players who are playing in the top level. And some of my players are earning a hundred dollars a month, not millions of dollars a year.”
Nigeria will play their last Group C match against Cape Verde on Tuesday at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Lagos. It is a winner-take-all affair, with two points separating the Eagles and the Blue Sharks heading into the group decider.
A draw for Nigeria, though, will be enough to sail through to the final knockout round.