Former Manchester United winger, Quinton Fortune
By Tunde Sulaiman
Former Manchester United winger, Quinton Fortune will be surprised if Nigeria’s Super Eagles fail to win their third African Cup of Nations title although for him even if they do, the team of the tournament has to be Cape Verde.
The former Bafana Bafana star, who is currently on a four-day visit to Nigeria courtesy of DHL, which is the official logistics partner and training kit sponsor of Manchester United, said although he expects a tough game, Super Eagles’ greater experience should be the deciding factor in the final against the Stallions of Burkina Faso at the National Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg.
“For the Burkinabe’s getting to the final is a major achievement. They have good players who are determined to do well, but at the end of the day I feel that Nigeria’s greater experience in games of such magnitude should be enough to see them through.
“It won’t be easy but at the end of the day I believe the Eagles should carry the day, especially if they continue to show the hunger and desire that they did in the games against Cote d’Ivoire and Mali,” he said.
Fortune, who joined Tottenham Hotspur as a 14-year-old in 1994, admitted that he has been impressed with the Super Eagles’ ability to grow into the tournament after starting off very below par.
“This is quite important because you never want to start with all guns blazing only to slump when it comes to crunch time. No it is better to start slowly and then hit form as the tournament progresses.
“This unfortunately is what happened to Cote d’Ivoire. They started so well but by the time they met the Eagles they had already peaked so they were unable to raise their game to match Nigeria. It is better to start slowly and then peak just at the right time.”
However, for the 35-year-old who played 126 times for the Red Devils during his five seasons at Old Trafford, should Nigeria even carry the day on Sunday, the team of the tournament for him can be no other side than Cape Verde – the smallest nation to have ever qualified for the Nations Cup.
“For me, they (Cape Verde) are clearly the team of the tournament. For a nation so small to have played so well at their very first major competition is just unbelievable.
“They did not show any fear or signs of being overwhelmed by the occasion and played some very decent football.
“If they played like this at their first competition one can only imagine what lies in stock for them, especially if they are able to build on this and take it to the next level,” said Fortune, whose football carrier was cut short by injury three years ago.