Erstwhile Super Eagles goalkeeper, Peter Rufai has expressly warned Nigerians not to expect top-notch performance from Gernot Rohr’s men when AFCON 2021 qualifiers get underway later this year.
Rufai posited that it would be unfair to expect the best from the players given the huge setback football suffered due to Covid-19 pandemic.
In an exclusive chat with FCNaija on Tuesday afternoon, the former KSC Lokeren goal tender maintained that it won’t be a stroll in the pack when Super Eagles begin AFCON qualifiers against Lesotho in Maseru if the slow return to active football is anything to go by.
The former Beveren stopper said he also expects a tight schedule for European clubs given the time wasted on lockdown but urged Nigerian to be patient with the players in their on-going quest to return to top shape.
“We have all seen the slow return to a normal lifestyle in Europe and beyond after Covid-19 lockdown. It’s a huge relief to see most of our players returned to action with their clubs.
“However, it’s simply mean that we must exercise caution by not expecting too much when AFCON qualifiers get underway hopefully later this year. They are just returning to active football while lots of African countries have not commenced their leagues.
“Nigeria is blessed with a good side but the effects of that globally lockdown will have it’s toll on players’ performance. The qualifiers won’t be an easy task at all,” Rufai said.
It would be recalled that Nigeria came from behind to get their 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign to a positive start with a 2-1 Group L win over Benin at Akwa Ibom Stadium in Uyo last November.
After a scare from Stephane Sessegnon’s early goal for Benin, the Super Eagles recovered to pocket three points at home and take an early lead in Group L.
Victor Osimhen converted from the penalty spot on the stroke of half-time while Samuel Kalu struck just after the hour mark to complete the comeback for Nigeria.