Anger and disappointment have trailed the early elimination of the Super Eagles of Nigeria from the 2021 AFCON in Cameroon.
Tunisia despite being decimated by many cases of Covid infection beat three-time champions Nigeria 1-0 to advance to the quarterfinal of the Africa Cup Sunday night.
Defender Leon Balogun, who missed the AFCON due to injury, described the outcome as “bitter defeat”.
The blame game begun immediately after the final whistle in the game in Garoua with goalkeeper Maduka Okoye and caretaker coach Augustine Eguavoen not spared for the loss.
“You need a top goalkeeper to win a tournament and Nigeria didn’t have one,” said journalist Abiola Shodiya.
“I always knew Maduka (Okoye) was a ticking time bomb. It was just a matter of time before he exploded. It didn’t take too long.”
“Maduka Okoye or whatever he is called should please go back to his fashion business. We are done!” blasted an angry Funke Akin on Twitter.
Eguavoen took over the Eagles in an interim capacity two weeks to the Nations Cup after Gernot Rohr was sacked.
He was widely praised after he guided the team through the group stages of the competition with a perfect record.
But the 56-year-old coach has now been criticised for not doing enough against Tunisia.
“I still can’t believe that we are no longer at the Nations Cup,” lamented Etim Inyang, a shocked fan.
“The coach (Eguavoen) was not prepared for the Tunisians, who were better tactically. He could not vary his tactics and he panicked in his changes.
“We will need another man to lead the team for the World Cup playoffs against Ghana.”
The local newspapers led with several headlines the day after the country’s ouster.
“Hope Dashed – Eagles crash out after 1-0 defeat to Covid-19-hit Tunisia”, screamed Punch Sports Extra, while Sporting Sun simply reported it as “Super Eagles in disappointing end.”
The focus for Nigeria football has now shifted to the 2022 World Cup final playoffs against arch-rivals Ghana in March.
The playoffs are slated for between March 23 and 29 with Ghana hosting the first leg and the overall winners over two legs advancing to the World Cup in Qatar in November.
Nigeria have qualified for the last three World Cup tournaments.