Garba Lawal counts gains from Eagles’ participation in WAFU Cup

Super Eagles’ Peter Eneji (left) beats a Beninoise defender to the ball during their WAFU Cup semifinal game at the Cape Coast Stadium, Ghana… PHOTO: GHANASOCCERNET.COM.

• LMC wants team to build on Ghana 2017 positives
Former international midfielder, Garba Lawal has described Nigeria’s participation in the just concluded Ghana 2017 WAFU Cup of Nations as a success because it has produced players that the national team coach could call up for some positions in the main Super Eagles team.

Nigeria suffered a humiliating 1-4 defeat to Ghana on Sunday at the Cape Coast Stadium in Ghana.

Speaking to The Guardian from Ghana, where he was a member of Nigeria Football Federation’s (NFF) technical study group, Lawal said there were still some positives that the nation could take from the competition.

“I have been in Ghana for almost three weeks now from the start of the competition as a member of the technical study group. I believe that the Eagles did not do well at the final. All through the duration of the match, the Ghanaians won almost every contest for the ball and they were more aggressive than our players. Our team deserved to be down with the score line, the team did not measure up to our expectation.

“No matter how much you motivate a team, if it does not get it right on the match day, that kind of defeat we suffered is exactly what you get… then you know that there is something wrong with the team. Having lost the cup to the Ghanaians, the boys should start thinking of the CHAN competition that is around the corner. The players should blame themselves for not winning the duel against our rival,” he said.

The former Roda JC in Holland player said, however, that despite the loss the competition still produced some positives with the discovery of some players for the nearest future.

“Some players impressed me during the competition, that is what you get in such a tournament. These players that I saw also need encouragement. Every player that has a future must start from somewhere just like I started my career too. I believe if any of these players were called upon they will deliver. It is just a matter of having trust in them and giving them the necessary confidence to excel,” he stated.

Also speaking on Nigeria’s performance in Ghana, the League Management Company (LMC) urged the team to build on the lessons learnt from the sub-continental championship for the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN).

The players were drawn from the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) organised by the LMC.

LMC Chairman, Shehu Dikko, who was at the finals on Sunday, said he was impressed by the fight in the players that saw them come from the brink of ouster at the group stage to reach the finals.

“Winning the trophy would no doubt have been delightful, but the LMC is happy for the exposure the players have gained from playing in an international tournament of this nature and more importantly, it is a learning curve for them ahead the 2018 CHAN”, stated Dikko.

The LMC described the tournament as a ‘win-win’ for domestic football in Nigeria and the entire West Africa, noting that the strength of West African football can be seen in the dominance of West African teams to recent World Cup tournaments.

Dikko also noted that the tournament has offered the players and coaches more time to bond and understand each other as compared to when they were just invited to camp to play for the CHAN qualifiers, adding, “It is our belief that a lot has been learnt on the side of the coaches and on the side of the players.

Whatever gaps were observed at the WAFU tournament will be the tool to improve the team going forward”.



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