Okpara: No African team fears Eagles anymore

Former Nigerian defender Godwin Okpara, has lamented that the Super Eagles have lost their fear-factor.

The Eagles have recorded disturbing results in the last few years against teams considered to be minnows. In the qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, Nigeria lost to the Central African Republic, though they took revenge in the away clash in Cameroon.

The latest concern was triggered by how badly the team has fared in the 2026 World Cup qualifiers so far. The three-time African champions had to come from behind to secure a point in the first game of the qualifying series last year at home against Lesotho, at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo.

Few days later, they again came from behind to snatch a 1-1 draw with the Warriors of Zimbabwe in Rwanda, to signal a terrible start to the campaign. Last month, they again for the third consecutive time in the qualifying matches for the finals, forced the Bafana Bafana of South Africa to a draw in Nigeria and to make matters worse, they recorded their first-ever defeat to the Cheetahs of Benin Republic three days later at Stade Felix Houphouex-Boigny in Abidjan.

The results have left the Eagles fifth in a six-team stand in Group C and are on the verge of missing out on a second consecutive World Cup for the first time since making their debut at the mundial in 1994.

In an interview on Monday, Okpara, a former right-back for the senior national team, explained that there is need for patience, to be able to build a holistic solution which will include every stakeholder in the business of the senior national team.

“When you look at it now, nobody has that respect for us like before. Before, whenever a nation wants to play against Nigeria, they know that it is not going to be easy. Now, they will come all out, knowing that even here in Nigeria, they still can get a point or winning us. It is time for us to sit, the coaches, the technical crew, the players, all of us, must do something about what we are facing now. We can’t build Rome in a day, but we Nigerians do not have the patience. When you plant a fruit, you have to give it time to grow,” Okpara stated.

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