While Nigerians cry over Eagles 1-1 showing in their game with Burkina Faso,former Abia state governor Dr. Orji Uzor Kalu Tuesday appealed for calm insisting that it was not bad afterall.
Kalu put up a strong defence.”Those of us who follow Eagles’ Nations Cup record are not having sleepless nights.Being forced to a 1-1 draw is no death sentence.It first came at Ethiopia’76 against Guinea.Muda Lawal had scored the opener in the 52nd minute.In the dying minutes,Papa Camara made it 1-1.Two years later in Ghana,Segun Odegbami stunned hosts Ghana with an opening goal.At the end,the Black Stars escaped with an equaliser.Then came Sam Okwaraji’s bullet against Cameroun at Maroc’88.The Indomitable Lions would later make it 1-1.And in those tournaments,Nigeria did not come back empty handed,”he said.
The ex-governor reminded compatriots that even when the Eagles won the Nations Cup at home in 1980 and at away in 1994,they were forced to share the spoils by Cote D’Ivoire and Egypt respectively in the first round.
“Nobody believed the Ivoriens could hold Nigeria in Lagos,yet it happened.The Pharaohs got the same result in Tunisia.Picking a draw in the first round is part of the Eagles’ story.I am sure Austin Okocha and Victor Ikpeba have not forgotten the 2000 Nations Cup when after a goalless draw with Congo,Lagos fans ambushed the national team hauling stones and bottles.In 2002,there was a barren draw with hosts Mali.In the next six years,it was another draw with Mali,”Kalu continued.
Kalu expressed joy that Nigerians were blaming the Eagles for super-sub Alain Traore’s last touch leveller that cancelled Emmanuel Emenike’s 23rd minute goal.According to him,such criticisms meant something good was in the pipeline.
“I have not forgotten the South Africa 2010 World Cup.After losing 0-1 to Argentina,the Eagles were hailed as heroes.You know what it means to praise a losing team.Unfortunaely,that was the last time the Eagles impressed anybody,as they were booted out by Greece.Now my countrymen are blaming the players.Just watch out,those who are shouting crucify them today,will scream Hossana tomorrow.Things,I believe,will get better,”he concluded.