AFCON: Nigeria’s campaign with high expectations ended in disappointment

Super eagle
On Monday, Super Eagles players began arriving at the team's Abuja training camp in preparation for the vital 2022 FIFA World Cup play-off against Ghana's Black Stars. 

Nigeria’s campaign, which began with such high expectations, ended in disappointment, but the Rangers defender urges supporters to focus on the positives and overlook the flaws. 

Despite their surprising withdrawal from the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon, Rangers player Leon Balogun has urged supporters to keep supporting the Super Eagles. 

Nigerian supporters have been ecstatic with their beloved national team in recent weeks, as the Super Eagles have won one match after another in Cameroon. 

The three-time continental winners were the most interesting team to see at the Afcon, defeating Egypt, Sudan, and Guinea-Bissau with spectacular victories. 

Despite finishing top in Group D, the Super Eagles were drawn against Tunisia, the most daunting third-placed opponent available. 

And, due to a solitary Youssef Msakni goal, the Carthage Eagles snatched the narrowest of victories at the Roumde Adjia Stadium on Sunday to knock ten-man Nigeria out of the Nations Cup.  

While the Super Eagles were unlucky to lose a game they dominated, Nigerian players put up a few lackluster displays. 

Maduka Okoye, the goalkeeper, was guilty of allowing Msakni’s drive to go past him. Alex Iwobi, an Everton midfielder, was sent off for a needless stamp barely minutes after coming off the bench. 

Late on, Almeria attacker Umar Sadiq had a wonderful chance to equalize, but he dragged his shot wide with only goalkeeper Ben Said to beat. 

Following their early Afcon exit, the three players, as well as a few others, may face criticism from disgruntled Nigerian supporters.  

Balogun, on the other hand, has urged the supporters not to vent their frustrations on the players. 

“Our title hopes for #AFCON2021 have been dashed by an excruciating setback. That doesn’t take away from the fact that they’ve been a delight to watch,” the former Mainz defender tweeted shortly after the game. 

“Please don’t allow hatred and player shaming take over. Instead, continue to support them like you did today!”  

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