Alex Iwobi, a Nigerian forward for Everton, has advised Nigerians to put the Super Eagles’ failure to qualify for this year’s World Cup in Qatar behind them and look ahead to the future.
Iwobi, who helped Everton avoid relegation from the English Premier League this season, admitted that not qualifying for Qatar 2022 was a disappointment, but Nigerians must move on.
He highlighted that the three-time African champions were simply unlucky to miss out on the ticket at Super Eagles training in Abuja ahead of Thursday’s AFCON 2023 qualifier against Sierra Leone.
“I believe we were unlucky since the boys put up a tremendous effort” (in the two-leg playoffs with Ghana).
“It was heartbreaking to miss the ticket, but life goes on.”
We have to move on,” Iwobi said, referring to his suspension from the 2021 AFCON in Cameroon, which prevented him from playing in the World Cup playoffs against Ghana.
With the team’s reconstruction under new Portuguese coach Jose Peseiro, the Everton star believes the Super Eagles are on the right route to reclaiming their status in international football.
“In the friendlies against Mexico and Ecuador (in the United States), we played extremely well and generated chances, but we didn’t get the results,” he said.”Now we’re looking forward to the AFCON qualifiers, which start with Sierra Leone.”
“I believe we’ll get it right at home against Sierra Leone (who drew a thrilling 4-4 draw in a 2021 AFCON qualifier in Benin City last year).”
In addition, speaking about the AFCON 2023 match against Sierra Leone, which will be held behind closed doors at the MKO Abiola Stadium in Abuja, Genk forward Cyriel Dessers, 27, said that playing without fans will not prevent the Eagles from winning.
“We have to perform, do the business even behind closed doors,” Dessers, who was the top scorer in the UEFA Europa Conference League this season while on loan at Feyenoord in the Netherlands, said.
Dessers will play in his first home game for Nigeria after choosing the Super Eagles over Belgium two years ago.
“Having the supporters in the stadium would have been fantastic, but that will not be possible for this game.”
While pledging to score goals for the Eagles, he stated that he had no regrets about choosing Nigeria over Belgium.
“I have no regrets about choosing to play for Nigeria, even though I was neglected following my debut two years ago,” Dessers says, adding that Feyenoord fans were ready to create an appeal fund to pay his €4 million transfer price in order to retain him in the Dutch club.