2014 World Cup: Eagles Won’t Underrate Ethiopia In Return Leg

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The Super Eagles on Monday arrived at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, after securing a first leg victory over the Walya Antelopes of Ethiopia, in a World Cup qualifying play-off in Addis Ababa, with a promise that their opponents would not be underrated in the return leg.

The match, played at the Addis Ababa National Stadium on Sunday, saw Emmanuel Emenike scoring twice for the Eagles to silence the hosts who took the lead in the 57th minute.

That 2-1 victory has put the African champions in the drivers seat of the elimination tie for the 2014 World Cup holding in Brazil.

The Super Eagles players (23 in number) arrived in Abuja aboard a chartered Boeing 777 Ethiopian Airliner at exactly 4.30 a.m. together with four coaches and eight backroom staff.

The Executive Committee members of the Nigeria Football Association (NFA), led by its Chairman, Alhaji Aminu Maigari, accompanied the team back home.

Some National Assembly members, including the Senate Committee Chairman on Sports, Adamu Gumba, and his House of Representatives counterpart, Godfrey Gaiya, were in the entourage that arrived with the team.

Others were officials of the National Sports Commission (NSC), the Nigeria Football and Other Sports Supporters Club, as well as the management and secretariat staff of the NFA

Media representatives were also in the 263-member Nigerian delegation that made the trip to Ethiopia.

Most of the foreign-based players connected flights immediately back to their bases in Europe, in preparation for this weekend’s matches in various European leagues.

The Super Eagles suffered various degrees of intimidation and humiliation in the hands of the Ethiopian security personnel and football fans.

The intimidation and harassment started when the Eagles were given a bus infested with cockroaches, on arrival, while the police team attached to the team usually took routes in gridlock.

This was deliberate to ensure the Eagles arrived late when it was time for training.

The intimidation reached a crescendo on match day, when all manner of soft drink bottles were hauled at the Nigerian players and supporters when the Ethiopians thought that they had been denied a goal in the first half.

Television replays later showed that Godfrey Oboabona cleared the ball off the line.

The attack on the pitch was taken outside it as some fans ambushed the Eagles and hauled stones at the team’s bus as it made its way back to Saro Maria hotel, after the game.

One of the heavy stones shattered the rear windscreen of the bus, sending all persons inside the bus scampering for safety and taking cover under their seats.

Nosa Igiebor, the Real Betis midfielder, was unlucky as one of the stones slashed his right palm leading to profuse bleeding that was immediately attended to by the team doctor, Ibrahim Gyaran.

Mike Umeh, the NFA Vice Chairman, said the matter had been reported to the FIFA Security team at the match venue and that he hoped action would be taken.

Samples of the bottled drink hauled at the team during the encounter had been taken by the FIFA team as exhibits.

The return leg tie of the qualifier is scheduled for Calabar on Nov. 16.