The three-time African champions barely made it to the playoff rounds after surviving a late threat from lowly Cape Verde on Tuesday
Victor Osimhen and Moses Simon have expressed their delight at helping the Super Eagles claim one of the ten spots in next year’s Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifying playoffs.
Speaking to BBC Sport Africa, the Napoli striker and the Nantes winger, however, admitted that the Gernot Rohr-led side was not impressive during the group campaign that ended with a 1-1 draw against Cape Verde on Tuesday.
The Super Eagles won four games and drew one of their six Group C matches to claim 13 points and edge the Blue Sharks to second place with 11 points.
The Cape Verdeans could have knocked out Nigeria with a win, and they were close to snatching victory on a few occasions but for a couple of last-ditch blocks inside the Teslim Balogun Stadium.
That unconvincing display was the highlight of a poor campaign that saw the Eagles win just one of their three home games and suffer a shock loss to the Central African Republic.
Fans have not hidden their disgust for the Eagles’ performance, even as they lauded Osimhen’s excellent individual showing.
The 22-year-old scored the Eagles’ first-minute opener against Cape Verde and was a thorn in the visitors’ flesh all afternoon, with his effort earning him the man-of-the-match award.
Osimhen, however, wants to ignore the critics and focus on the team’s success at achieving their set targets of making the playoff round.
“What’s important is getting to the next stage of the qualifying, that’s what the target was, and I’m proud we could achieve that,” Osimhen said.
“It’s not possible for me to claim the glory for our success, it takes a team to succeed, and we all make a big impact.
“Sometimes you don’t need to focus on what should’ve been; instead, you need to look at what you achieve – given the fact that it’s a competitive process to reach the World Cup.”
Nantes star Simon accepts that fans want better performances from the Super Eagles, and he admits it is up to the players to raise their standard and deliver quality.
“We know our fans expect more from the team, and we believe we can do more,” Simon said.
“The players have a role to play, and hopefully, we can continue to improve and make our fans happy.”
Having joined Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, and Senegal as the seeded teams, Nigeria could face any of Egypt, Congo DR, Mali, Cameroon, and Ghana in the playoffs in March.