Femi Solaja in Alexandria
As many Nigerians are yet to come to term with the reality of the two nil defeat of Super Eagles by minnows, Madagascar last Sunday, team striker, Odion Ighalo, has assured the teeming populace that the team will rise to the occasion when it plays its next match this weekend against Cameroon.
Ighalo, who opened the scoring chart for Nigeria at this tournament admitted yesterday that Super Eagles somehow underrated Madagascar and were taught some footballing lesson which they have to take to the crucial knockout phase.
“That is football for you. We underrated our opponents after getting good results in the first two matches and have now learnt our lessons in a bitter way. If per chance we are to meet them again, we will give them a bitter dose of what we have gone through in the last few days after the match.
“But the good thing is that we only stumble and not fall flat. We still have the chance to restore out pride this weekend regardless of playing the cup holders, Cameroon.
“It’s a wake up call for us although everyone wants to win but it was not just our day last Sunday and we lost woefully. We are quite aware that Cameroon is a good side but Nigeria too is no pushover either.
“We want Nigerians to stand with us as we continue this journey and it was good that we lost at a time we are still much in contention and not out of reckoning,” the forward further observed,
On why the team is yet to register more goals despite the array of strikers in the squad, Ighalo said it was not the responsibility of only few individuals to score for the team but it is a team’s collective effort to excel at all time.
“Yes, I scored the first goal and Kenny Omeruo scored the other. It is not to say the rest are not at the party. We are here as a collective unit hence what is important is that we win for Nigeria and nothing else.
“I’ve been a bit rusty myself after a long lay off due to injury and absence from the national team. I just came back and my sharpness is returning gradually especially as we look to get the job done from the knock out stage on Saturday.
“We want to emulate the wining class of 2013 Eagles who got back their rhythm from the clash against Côte d’ Ivoire.
“We strongly believe that a win in our next match against Cameroon will set the tone for Nigeria to hit the top again,” he concluded.