Former Nigeria internationals, Etim Esin, Emmanuel Amuneke and Super Eagles striker, Odion Ighalo have shared their disappointments over Nigeria’s failure to book participation spots at the African Cup of Nations 2017.
Nigeria will be missing at the junior U-17 and U-20 AFCON, and also in the senior men AFCON, as all the National teams failed to qualify for the tournaments.
Etim Esin while speaking to reporters said the Super Eagles’ failure to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations billed for January in Gabon is a missed opportunity for the players.
“The 2017 Africa Cup of Nations would have been a platform for some of our players to showcase their talents.
“At the 2013 Cup of Nations which we won, most of our players used the tournament to advertise and also sell themselves.
“For a big country like Nigeria, who have won the Cup of Nations three times, failing to be at next year’s edition is so sad,” he said.
The Eagles, who had also failed to qualify for the 2015 AFCON in Equatorial Guinea, finished second to Egypt in a qualifying group that also had Tanzania and Chad.
Emmanuel Amuneke, on the other hand, has urged the country’s junior men’s teams to put the disappointment of not playing in next year’s CAF Africa Cup of Nations tournaments behind them.
The Flying Eagles team got knocked out by Sudan in the qualifiers for Zambia U-20 AFCON, while the Golden Eaglets were eliminated by Niger republic in the race for the U-17 AFCON in Madagascar.
Amuneke advised that the players must use the disappointment as a learning stage in their football careers.
“We just have to appreciate every moment of our life. Sometimes we just have to welcome the opposite side of life.
“Unfortunately, next year we will not be participating in the U-20 Africa Cup of Nations. Also in the U-17 Cup of Nations, we will not be there. But we have to learn from it.
“You can never always be at the top. When you find yourselves in difficulties you must always learn to live with it, which makes one grow,” he stated.
Amuneke was however in charge of the Flying Eagles team that got knocked out by Sudan.
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Also, as the senior AFCON begins January 10 in Gabon, Super Eagles striker Odion Ighalo has opened up that it will be hard for the 2013 champions to watch the event on television when they should be taking part in the action.
“It’s going to be very painful for Nigerians and as well the Super Eagles players to watch the AFCON 2017 at home.
“Nigeria is one of the big guns in football and missing the second AFCON in a row is even more painful. What we’ll have to do is to keep working hard to ensure that we qualify for the next AFCON,” Ighalo said.
Apparently, the only tournament that the Super Eagles are presently gunning for is the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. Hopes are high for a spot in the global competition as Nigeria currently occupies the top position in its CAF qualifying group.
And Ighalo maintained that the eagles are on course to clinch the World Cup ticket.
“We are happy about our performance so far in the World Cup qualifiers but we’ve not qualified yet.
“Right now, we are at the top of the group, if we can win one more game and draw one, it means we are already through to the World cup.”
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