Super Eagles John Obi Mikel tries to get the better of his Liberian opponent
By Duro Ikhazuagbe
The Super Eagles c
amp at the Metropolitan Hotel in Calabar erupted in massive celebration of the country’s 6-1 demolition of Liberia’s Lone Star to grab the ticket to next year’s Africa Cup of Nations. The last time Nigeria won any competitive game by such a wide margin was in 2005 when the Super Eagles defeated Zimbabwe 5-1 in Abuja yet failed to qualify for the World Cup hosted by Germany the following year.
But Saturday, the Eagles had reason to celebrate with Magnum Champagne supplied by an associate of the team, Friday Kujah. Ex-internationals like Victor Ikpeba, Jonathan Akpoborie, Austin Jay Jay Okocha, Franklin Howard and a host of others were all part of the celebrations Saturday night.
After missing the last edition hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea, the Eagles were desperate for a win and a return to the summit of African football. The 2-2 draw Nigeria played against the Liberians in the first leg in Monrovia last month appeared not enough to put the Eagles through: a situation that left the Lone Star hoping for a miracle in Calabar.
The avalanche of goals killed that hope to warrant the wild party that followed the victory later. Chelsea Star, John Mikel Obi told THISDAY he was very happy scoring in the crushing defeat of the boastful Liberians.
“First, I want to thank God for this victory and the opportunity to be at the Nations Cup next January. I am not just happy because I scored or was voted the Man of the Match, I am particularly happy for Nigerian football,” observed the midfielder who displayed a yeoman’s feat in Eagles middle.
Mikel said he was looking forward to the Nations Cup to be hosted by South Africa in January.
Kujah, the supplier of the Magnum Champagne told THISDAY that he shopped for the choice drinks in Paris and specifically brought the six cartons to Calabar in anticipation of the victory.
“After watching the first leg in Monrovia last month, I knew there was no way Liberia will come here and take the ticket from us. That would have been disaster after we missed the last Nations Cup. I am glad that everyone is happy with my little contribution to motivate our footballers,” said the FIFA football agent fondly called 'Soccer Ambassador'.
Meanwhile, Minister of Sports and Chairman of the NSC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, has congratulated the Super Eagles for the decisive victory over the Lone Stars of LIberia.
‘’I am extremely pleased with the performance of the team. They displayed the features of the Nigerian national teams of old: character, passion, discipline and determination. I believe this performance is not a fluke but a rediscovery of form. Kudos to the players and the technical crew,” the minister said.