Nigeria were not competitive against Benin Republic because they had earned a place in Cameroon 2022 before kick-off, according to experienced football administrator Samuel Olatunji-Okuku.
Hours before the Super Eagles took on the Squirrels in Porto-Novo, the three-time African champions were hoping for a win or a draw to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations.
However, Lesotho’s 0-0 draw with Sierra Leone earned Gernot Rohr’s men an early ticket even before kick-off against Michel Dussuyer’s men – and that changed the complexion of the game at the Stade Charles de Gaulle.
Although Paul Onuachu’s late minute strike handed Nigeria a slim 1-0 triumph, albeit, several football fans expressed their disenchantment with the performance of Rohr’s side. But, the Tripple 44 Academy CEO has a different view.
“We already qualified before the start of the match, so that reduced the competitiveness of the game,” Olatunji-Okuku told Goal after the game.
“The Super Eagles were a little bit relaxed and they played with ease because we have almost nothing to play for except our pride – that’s what everyone can see in the game.
“To be honest, they [Nigeria] played better today even though I expected us to create more chances and score some goals earlier.
“Let’s not forget that Benin Republic were defending very deeply with 10 men behind the ball and this shouldn’t be a surprise given the fact that the coach already said they will not be offensive against Gernot Rohr’s men.”
“However, we could have tried to score more and make sure the Super Eagles were scary once more,” he added.
“Be it friendly or competitive matches, I expect Super Eagles to be more aggressive and willing to win against every opponent.
“We should play more and show that we are the giant of Africa so that whoever wants to play against us should get worried. But I think we need to work more on our chance creation and goalscoring as well.”
Olatunji-Okuku went a step further suggesting the Eagles have the depth of quality to rule Africa in Cameroon, but he pointed out what needs to be done to achieve that.
“We should take a lot of positivity from the performance and the squad that was assembled,” he added.
“Without sounding immodest, Nigeria have what it takes to win the Africa Cup of Nations next year.
“We just have to find a way to make sure this set of players play together, create more chances, pass the ball a little bit faster and score more. Every nation should be scared of these set of Eagles.”