In spite of his side’s drab goalless draw with the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) champions Plateau United at the on-going NPFL Pre-season Invitational, the handler of the Nigeria’s Championship of African Nations-bound Eagles, Salisu Yusuf, has shrugged off criticisms that his side has been less than stellar, so far.
Speaking after the game, Yusuf told LEADERSHIP Sport that, though there were areas in need of attention, the basis of this tournament was not winning it, but honing getting the various departments of the team to function as one and become a formidable foe for any side in the tournament slated for January 2018 in Morocco.
“You may not believe it, but we are not here to win. We are here to do more than that.
“We want to build a great team and we do not want to fail. We are trying to fill certain positions.
“Since the WAFU Cup, this is our first game together and, though the team still has some ways to go before the CHAN, all the vacuums will be taken care of in the few days we have before we depart for Morocco.”
For large swaths of the game, the Eagles back-line of Orji Kalu, Nasiru Sani and Osadebwamen Okoro struggled to cope with Plateau’s darting forward, Tosin Omoyele, who gave them every reason to be alert, but Yusuf disclosed that Omoyele remained a part of his team and was only released to Plateau, because, at the moment, he was the side’s only available striker.
“Omoyele will be joining us in Abuja and any other player from MFM, Pillars and other sides in this tourney who we think can bring something to our team will be called up, as well. We need the NPFL’s best and that is why you can see that we have about six or seven new players in the team.”
For Plateau United’s Kennedy Boboye, his lads played according to instruction and it was no surprise that they were a little slow and rusty, because, so far, there had been no pre-season camping. He, however, assured that his lads would be ready for duty before their first continental game.
“Before the game, I let them know that we have not been doing well as champions and could not go down against the Eagles. I told them that if we keep struggling as we have done in the last couple of games, we would go nowhere. I think it worked and they played their hearts out, even though they could hardly convert most of the chances that came their way, few as they were.”
Boboye further allayed fears of his side going to ground at the first hurdle by insisting that his side would file out, confident of giving a great account of themselves when they come up against Edin Sport of Cameroon or any other team when the CAF CL gets into play in a few weeks.
“If we go back home and keep working on the various departments of the team, we will have no issues, just to go out and play,” Boboye assured.