Ex-international, Felix Owolabi, has urged Nigerians not to rebuke the Super Eagles following Sunday’s loss to the Desert Foxes of Algeria in the semifinal of the AFCON in Egypt.
He made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos on Monday while reacting to the team’s 2-1 defeat.
Owolabi noted that the team performed better than he had expected, adding that he would give them credit for their hard work.
“Bashing these young players will be cruel, for me they did excellently well, now that we are playing for third place, we need to encourage them.
“We need to psychologically push them forward because right now, I can imagine how they feel, I know that feeling too well, so no need to be mean to them.
“I won’t even lie, I didn’t expect them to come this far in the tournament given the fact that I perceive that Gernot Rohr as a coach lacks tact.
“What brought those players this far was individual talent and hard work and their collective efforts, so I’m genuinely happy they disappointed me, and they did far better than I had expected, ” he said.
When asked on what the squad should do to ensure that they come out victorious on Wednesday for the third place match against Tunisia, he urged the players to play like gunning for the top trophy.
“I know at times like these, some players will start giving excuses because they believe playing for third place position is not such a big deal.
“I remember in 1978, the same thing happened to us, we lost against Uganda, a team we considered not to be at par with us when it comes to good football.
“We were demoralised, so I’m talking from experience, they need to put their defeat behind them and focus on winning the third place match.
“This is a time when the overall discipline of the team is tested, so I need them to play like they are playing for the prestigious trophy,” he said.