Africa-Press – Ethiopia. Jay-Jay Okocha believes Nigeria did not deserve to beat Tunisia in their 1-0 Africa Cup of Nations Round of 16 defeat on Sunday.
The Super Eagles, one of the favourites to go all the way and win the 33rd edition in Cameroon after their display in the group stage, were stunned after Youssef Msakni scored the decisive goal for the North Africans shortly after the break.
Their possible comeback in the game was made even more difficult after Alex Iwobi was sent off just seven minutes after coming on.
The 48-year-old Okocha, who managed 73 appearances and scored 14 goals for Nigeria, believes the Super Eagles were beaten fairly because the Carthage Eagles came with a game plan which they executed with aplomb.
“It’s a disappointing night for us, but we have to say congratulations to Tunisia. Well-deserved victory. I think they outsmarted us tonight tactically,” Okocha said on SuperSport where he is a pundit.
“They came with a good game plan and they executed it. It’s a lesson to every football lover… We didn’t do enough to win this match and we were taught a life lesson today.”
Former Nigerian international Chukwu Ndukwe has blamed the exit on overconfidence.
“The Tunisians prepared well for the Eagles and when they saw that they can score they took the opportunity. And one thing about the North Africans, once they score, it is always difficult to get back into the game,” Ndukwe told CompleteSports website.
“The Eagles didn’t get any shot on target, I think they played with too much confidence thinking after they beat Egypt they can do the same to Tunisia.”
Nigeria boss steps down
Augustine Eguavoen stepped down as Nigeria manager following the round of 16 elimination.
Interim boss Eguavoen was also named the winner of the Group Stage Best Manager Award, but the joy from this was short-lived and the team has now left the showpiece at the first knockout stage, with the 56-year-old tactician revealing his decision.
“What happens next is that I’m the interim coach and technical director of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF),” Eguavoen said after the match.
“I will go back to my position and allow the NFF (to) make a decision on the way forward.”
Eguavoen’s short tenure lasted just over a month as he was appointed as a temporary replacement for Gernot Rohr, who was sacked in December.
Ahead of Afcon 2021, the NFF had announced Portuguese manager Jose Peseiro as the next permanent coach, stating that he would take over from Eguavoen after the tournament.
There were reports that Peseiro had not yet signed on the dotted line, and that Eguavoen could get the job permanently after a strong group-stage showing in which the Eagles were the only side to win all their matches.
Jay-Jay Okoach, ex-Nigeria skipper
I think they outsmarted us tonight tactically. They came with a good game plan and executed it. And you know, it’s a lesson to every football lover. Football is always the winner. We didn’t do enough to win this match and we were taught a life lesson.