Ex-international Fatai Amoo has said the Super Eagles must learn from the doggedness, perseverance and never-say-die spirit exhibited by Hotspur players of the English Premier League side Tottenham who have qualified for the final of the 2019 UEFA Champions League for the first time in their history.
Tottenham were just 45 minutes away from elimination from the competition when they were trailing hosts Ajax 3-0 on aggregates in the second leg of their semifinal clash at the Johan Cruyff Stadium on Wednesday but against all odds, the Mauricio Pochettino lads produced a stunning show with Lucas Moura scoring three goals to set up a final clash with Liverpool on June 1.
Amoo, who was a former Super Eagles assistant coach, said the sheer passion and doggedness of Spurs players earned them the important victory in Amsterdam and urged the Nigerian national team to emulate the Londoners if they are to win at the 2019 AFCON in Egypt.
He said: “I am sure a majority of people would not have predicted that Tottenham would be in the final of the Champions League at the start of the competition; they were not considered as favourites and even when they got to the semifinal and got beaten on their home soil by Ajax several pundits wrote them off in the second half.
“However, look at the way they reacted to their problem; even when they were trailing 2-0 in the second half they probably told themselves they had to change the story, they fought on their own, they showed determination, doggedness and good spirit that they had come far and would push hard for the last time. I like their story, they had just 45 minutes to correct the wrongs and they fought the battle of their lives and got what they wanted.
“It is a big lesson for the Super Eagles; they have to show such courage and determination at the Nations Cup. Nigeria are always favourites for the Nations Cup but some people are still skeptical about the team’s chances because there are other countries who are strong but the Eagles can learn from what happened to Tottenham who were not favourites but now they in the final of the Champions League. It is sheer doggedness of the team, of the players.”
Amoo, a former Eagles midfielder, also weighed in with advice for the current Manager of the team Gernot Rohr regarding the problematic goalkeeping department of the squad, saying that home boy Ikechukwu Ezenwa and South Africa-based Daniel Akpeyi should be considered for the first choice spot.
The number goal tender Francis Uzoho has been warming the bench at his club in Cyprus, a development that has become worrisome for Rohr but Amoo said it was needless to press the panic button, saying that other goalies should be encouraged to compete for the top gloves.
“For me, that is not a big deal because Akpeyi is there, playing regularly in South Africa and Ezenwa can also do the job. So, it is not an excuse at all because we still have very good goalkeepers in the domestic league that we can try; I know the coach understands what it is expected of him and he is an experienced handler who will deliver,” he added.
The captain of the team Mikel Obi hasn’t featured for the side since the last FIFA World Cup and he is also doubtful for the AFCON campaign but Amoo said the coach should look beyond the Middleborough man.
“Mikel is an important player for Nigeria but if he is not ready for the team then we have to rely on other players. It is also an opportunity for others to rise up, we cannot say we can’t perform because there is no Mikel .
“With or without him, we should get the job done; Barcelona lost to Liverpool despite having Lionel Messi on the pitch. So, there is no guarantee that we are going to win with him or without him. They just have to go to Egypt and do well,’ he added.