NIGERIA vs SOUTH AFRICA Yes, something did go wrong. All the Eagles needed was to beat South Africa and what Congo played in Sudan would not have mattered.
But as the match dragged on and it became obvious that South Africa were not going to roll over, journalists were on their smartphones and other devices, frantically refreshing their browsers in search of the Congo result.
At that point Nigeria needed to at least match Congo’s result. But Le Roy’s boys held on for a 2-0 win and finished the group two points ahead of Nigeria.
The long faces and bitter lamentations of Uyo fans after the match at the spanking new Akwa Ibom Stadium Complex told half the story.
It took forever for the devastated Nigerian players to leave the pitch. Keshi looked like a broken man and hid from view. Nigeria Football Federation members who must have made plans for Equatorial Guinea looked forlorn.
The champagne that was on ice at the team’s five-star Le Meridien base was ignored, the players refused interviews, Keshi and his assistants went into hiding.
A promising day of boasts and chants of anticipated victory had turned into a sad night of broken dreams and total despair.
The Eagles were left in an inconsolable state, but they had nobody to blame but themselves.
The draw was kind to Nigeria. South Africa, Congo and Sudan should not be the kind of teams to give the African champions headaches. But all of these teams took points off the Super Eagles. Two of them defeated the Super Eagles and the other one did not lose to Nigeria.
A team that could get only four points from three home games should have no complaints if they fail to qualify for a tournament. Especially, if that team is Nigeria and the home games are against South Africa, Sudan and Congo; no disrespect to these teams.
The Eagles got handed so many lifelines, but they blew them all.
NIGERIA VS SOUTH AFRICA
DATE: NOVEMBER 19, 2014
VENUE: AKWA IBOM STADIUM COMPLEX
NIGERIA: Vincent Enyeama, Efe Ambrose, Azubuike Egwuekwe, Kenneth Omeruo, Juwon Oshaniwa, Raheem Lawal, John Mikel Obi, Ogenyi Onazi, Ahmed Musa, Emmanuel Emenike, Ike Uche
SOUTH AFRICA:Darren Keet, Anele Ngconcga, Tefu Mashamaite, Erick Mathoho, Sibusiso Khumalo, Dean Furman, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Mandla Masango, Oupa Manyisa, Kermit Erasmus, Tokelo Rantie
Final score card: 8/18 Verdict: Not good enough