Coach Augustine Eguavoen says people are once again beginning to respect the Super Eagles following their performance at the group stage of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
Eguavoen told newsmen during his post-match conference that a lot of people felt that Nigeria was not good enough to win the tournament because of the team’s performance in the last few months.
Nigeria’s Super Eagles on Wednesday in Garoua advanced in style to the knockout phase of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
They beat Guinea-Bissau 2-0 at the Stade Roumde Adjia to become the only side at this 33rd edition of the competition to win all their three group games.
Winners of groups A, B and C who had advanced earlier failed to win all their three games.
“But again it is the same set of players who performed brilliantly well prior to the AFCON, the last one in Egypt and also a year or couple later.
“All of a sudden, things didn’t go well as they were supposed to for some reason and that’s why people were trying to write Nigeria off.
“For the first game, nobody gave us a chance but we did the job collectively,” said the coach.
He said he told the players to express themselves and be committed, “you don’t have any other country to play for, it’s only Nigeria and you know how passionate our people are when it comes to football.
“And then, that game was gone. We had to put it behind us and then focus on the next game. Went ahead to beat Sudan and then put it behind us and then focus on the next game.
“Now, people are thinking and starting to respect Nigeria.”
He, however, said the team would not allow the praises get to their head, adding that they would continue to respect their opponents in the tournament.
“We will always respect our opponents, we will play them with full strength and we will play them the way we play with anybody.
“For instance, if you see today’s game and like I said before, Guinea-Bissau is a very strong team. They were no pushovers at all,” said Eguavoen.
He added that he expected a tough game because the Guinea-Bissau team was physically and technically very strong.
“So, they gave us a run for the money, but at the end of the day we were able to get those two goals and I am very satisfied with the performance.
“The most credit must go to the players for doing everything we told them to do,” he said.