Former Nigeria international Nduka Ugbade says Zambia’s back-to-back wins against Algeria inspired them against the Super Eagles in Saturday’s 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier in Uyo, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.
Alex Iwobi’s 73rd minute goal secured a 1-0 win and a sixth FIFA World Cup appearance for Nigeria.
Prior to Iwobi’s goal, the Eagles found it difficult to break down a resolute Zambian side who were unfortunate to see a first half goal ruled out for offside.
Reflecting on the game, Ugbade who was in action when the Eagles beat Zambia 2-1 in the final of the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations, admits that he expected a difficult game for the Eagles.
“I had always known that the match would not be easy like everybody thought,” Ugbade told completesportsnigeria.com.
“For so many years, we have known Zambia as a very big footballing nation.
“They were motivated because they believed that with a win against Nigeria, there is the possibility of qualifying for the World Cup. And having beaten Algeria both home and away, they were clearly motivated.
“The Zambians played a lot better and they were very strong, but the Nigerian team was tactically strong and somehow organised.
“One thing that must be noted is that Zambia are from the high altitude so they don’t get tired easily.
“At a point in the game we got a bit tired and and gave the ball away easily. But the changes Gernot Rohr made was very good which resulted into the goal.”
Despite the tough game, Ugbade praised the Eagles’ for their impressive performance.
He said: “Leon Balogun and William Troost-Ekong have been outstanding for Nigeria in the last three games. Iwobi has shown that he is a well trained footballer, and playing for Arsenal they are known to finish chances most of the time.
“We still have a lot of time to improve, especially the left-full-back position which has been the weakest. But I must congratulate the players and the captain, Mikel Obi, who did well to coordinate the team.”
And for the players who should prosecute the inconsequential game against Algeria in Constantine, Ugbade said:”I’m not expecting to see anything different from what the coach wants,” he stated.
“Sometimes the coach might want to finish on a high especially because of the FIFA rankings. Sometimes the same set of players might be used for continuity and chemistry.
“And sometimes the coach might decide to rest his key players and look to try other players who have not had the opportunity to play.
“So for me, whoever the coach feels he would like to use, I don’t have a problem with that.”