Afcon: Build on Ivorian momentum, Okoku tells Eagles
By John Egbokhan
As Nigeria confront Mali in today’s AFCON semifinal match in Durban, an ex-international, Paul Okoku has urged the Super Eagles to build on the momentum of the victory over Ivory Coast to book their passage in the final of the tournament.
Okoku, who from the onset of the tournament has been at the forefront of wishing the Eagles well in South Africa, said that he was sure that their fighting spirit and great team work were going to propel them to victory over the Malians.
Writing from his United States of America base, Okoku said that he started believing in the Eagles ability to shine in South Africa, during their qualification matches for the 2013 AFCON and warm=up matches for the main event.
“ I am a realist and I got that from analyzing all the recent away games Super Eagles have played in so far, against Malawi, Mozambique and Liberia.
They almost won each of the away games but for the unfortunate defensive errors committed by the team, they gave up the leads in the very last minutes of the matches.
“They won their matches against Venezuela, in Miami and Liberia, in Nigeria, compellingly. You just don’t get that kind of consistent performances from an average team”, added Okoku, who was a teammate of Keshi in the 1980s.
Continuing, Okoku said that “going in to the match against Mali, there is a lot to be optimistic about as the players have rekindled their capability Nigerians have long been expecting from them.
Evidently and unarguably, they have improved with every game and should build on that energy against Mali. “Hence, the coaching staff just need to do what they have been doing and the players to play to instructions and execute the game-plan flawlessly.
To have a chance to win, the players will need to have a high conversion rate of taking advantage of their scoring chances; commit less or no errors and the defense must have a laser-focus approach without losing concentration.
“They have the momentum on their side now that they have defeated the seemingly perceived and self-acclaimed soccer giants of Africa, Ivory Coast.
They have to be self-motivated and follow a balance method of every player playing to his full capacity.”, added Okoku.
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