Mastoroudes: Super Eagles Have Capacity To Overcome Bafana Setback; Must Fight Cameroon ‘Fire To Fire’
By Nnamdi Ezekute:
Veteran Nigerian football administrator and onetime boss of Leventis United FC of Ibadan has predicted that the Super Eagles will stage a strong comeback following a disgraceful 2-0 defeat to Bafana Bafana of South Africa in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Uyo, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.
Nigeria host Cameroon in a 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifier on August 28, looking to win and extend lead in the Group B of the African qualifying zone.
Mastoroudes, slams Gernot Rohr's team for confronting South Africa without grit and losing disgracefully at home, but believes
the Nigerian side has the capacity to bounce back on winning note if the coach and players get back to work with the hard lessons learnt.
"I am still optimistic they will bounce back. Yes, we lost the first match of the AFCON qualifiers, but we haven't lost everything. There are still many matches to play. We were wounded but we're not out yet," Mastoroudes tells Completesportsnigeria.com.
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"I saw Cameroon against Chile at the FIFA Confederations Cup. They have speed, great physique, height and power. It is a very important game to play, and we must win it to qualify for the World Cup.
"I am convinced that Nigeria can fight well and win when they have their back against the wall."
The Greek-born Mastorodes continues on his desire to see the national team his adopted country bounce back from the loss to South Africa.
"We did not play well in that match against South Africa, so losing it was inevitable," reckons.
"I felt that the players approached it like a friendly match. It's like they didn't realize the importance of of the game. I was very disappointed with their performance. Like I've always said, the new crop of Nigerian players coming through have the capacity to go far, but unfortunately they didn't show that promise against South Africa.
"I notices too many weaknesses in the team against South Africa. For example, the two full-backs were so much below par.
"The Eagles initially held the game but lacked creativity to to last the distance and then allowed South Africa to come up in the match.
"Going forward, Moses Simon was holding the ball, doing all sorts of tricks, but his final touches were so pathetic. Ahmed Musa was a disappointment when he came in. Most of us believe Musa is fast, but many African defenders are faster than him. His speed was completely neutralized by the Bafana defenders.
"Iheanacho was played completely out of position. We need a top class centre-forward. The forwards were substandard against South Africa. I did not see one Nigerian forward that I liked in the match.
"I was also very disappointed with Arsenal boy, Alex Iwobi. He didn't play well in that match.
"The only player who impressed in the midfield was Onazi. He fought like a lion, but unfortunately, he was on his own.
"I think we missed players like Mikel Obi in the midfield. And of course, we missed Victor Moses. He is such an important player for us. Without him against South Africa, the Super Eagles lost 50 per cent of his capacity.
"Going by the selection that played South Africa, I can say we don't have a team. We should just forget that match and concentrate on the future games.
"I have confidence in the capacity of the talents Nigeria have. We need to work very hard going forward. Hard work is the alfa and omega of every team. I believe we can improve. We should look for and get the right players to man the positions we have found to be weak. We have the players."
He also challenges Super Eagles Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr to brace up with the lessons he must have picked from his howlers against South Africa.
"Yes, the coach is to blame when the team loses, but it's a very good lesson for him. When people talked highly of him – about having not lost a match, I said good, the team must play more matches to test him properly. He may not have expected the players to play badly like they did even with his selection lapses, but it's a lesson for him going forward," he says.
"It's up to the coach now. He should get the right players for the positions. We have them out there. The team must work harder and play African football. This is important. They must play African football, not Oyinbo football. We have the talented players who will play that brand of football and make the difference."