Super Eagles’ shock AFCON exit: Balogun makes a passionate plea for Iwobi, Okoye, others
The campaign, which started with so much promise, ended in disappointment for Nigeria, but the Rangers defender wants the fans to focus on the positives and ignore the negatives
Rangers star Leon Balogun has urged fans to keep supporting the Super Eagles despite their shock exit from the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
Nigerian fans have been most proud of their darling national team over the past couple of weeks as the Super Eagles produced a pleasant victory after another in Cameroon.
The three-time continental champions were the most entertaining team to watch at the Afcon, handing impressive defeats to Egypt, Sudan, and Guinea-Bissau.
But despite finishing first in Group D, the Super Eagles drew the most formidable third-placed opponents available in former champions Tunisia.
And the Carthage Eagles, thanks to a solitary Youssef Msakni strike, carved out the narrowest of wins at the Roumde Adjia Stadium on Sunday to dump ten-man Nigeria out of the Nations Cup.
While the Super Eagles were unlucky to lose a game they dominated, there were a few unconvincing performances from Nigerian players.
Goalkeeper Maduka Okoye was guilty of letting Msakni’s drive get past him. Everton midfielder Alex Iwobi earned himself a straight red card for a needless stamp just minutes after coming off the bench.
And Umar Sadiq had a glorious chance late on to equalise, but the Almeria striker dragged his shot wide with only goalkeeper Ben Said to beat.
The three players and a couple more could be at the receiving end of backlash from disappointed Nigerian fans following their premature Afcon exit.
But Balogun has pleaded with fans not to take out their anger on the players.
“An extremely bitter defeat ends our title aspirations for #AFCON2021. That doesn’t change the fact that they’ve been a joy to watch,” the former Mainz defender tweeted moments after the encounter.
“So please, don’t let negativity and bashing of players take over. Instead keep supporting them like you did before today!”
Previously tipped to go all the way to the final, the Super Eagles’ adventure in Cameroon is over, and the team will likely take the next available flight out of Garoua in the coming hours.
Nigeria are three-time winners of the Africa Cup of Nations, triumphing in 1980, 1994, and 2013.