After losing to Ghana 1-4 on penalties, in the semi final of the African Nations Championship, the Super Eagles today took on the Warriors of Zimbabwe in the losers’ final and won the bronze at the continental football tournament.
At stake was national pride, more than the prize money that has no real value difference between the two combatants as both 3rd and 4th place finishers will share $500,000 equally.
The Nigerian players have been talking tough ahead of the duel which precedes the final between Ghana and Libya.
Although the morale in camp had been dampened by the defeat to Ghana, the players have promised to pick themselves up and ensure they do not come back to Nigeria without anything to show. “I will do my best if fielded as we cannot afford to lose to Zimbabwe,” says Super Eagles and 3SC forward, Gbolahan Salami.
Azubuike Egwuekwe said he and his team mates have vowed to do everything humanly possible to ensure the Zimbabweans fall. “We are disappointed by our loss to Ghana. Nobody expected it but now that we have been forced by circumstances to play third place match, we will do our best to win the match.”
For Coach Stephen Keshi, the tournament has been one of a big lesson and today’s tie between his wards and Zimbabwe is a continuation of the learning curve. “What is important is the mental and attitudinal growth my team has been able to achieve in this tournament. “Coming back from an opening game defeat to get to this level does not come cheap. My team has character and that would come to bear when we meet Zimbabwe,” the big boss said in Bloemfontein ahead of the match.