Eguavoen frowns at fans’ abuse of Iwobi, Okoye

Many Nigerian supporters directed their anger at some Super Eagles players following the team’s premature elimination from the continental championship

Augustine Eguavoen has condemned the actions of fans who abused and threatened Super Eagles players, including Alex Iwobi and Maduka Okoye, following Nigeria’s ouster from the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

Despite the withdrawal of key players and less-than-ideal preparations, the Super Eagles became a favourite for the Afcon title after a perfect group stage campaign. The Eguavoen-led team defeated Egypt, Sudan, and Guinea-Bissau to finish with the maximum nine points.

But the Super Eagles surprisingly fell 1-0 to Tunisia’s Carthage Eagles in the second round to halt their match towards a fourth continental crown.

Fans blamed goalkeeper Maduka Okoye for conceding the long-range strike from Youssef Msakni’s fierce drive early in the second half of that encounter.

Some other supporters were also disappointed with Alex Iwobi after the Everton playmaker picked up a red card barely five minutes after he was introduced from the bench.

After the game, fans went on social media to direct abuse and even threats at the players, forcing Iwobi and Okoye to delete their accounts.

Eguavoen is convinced that the Eagles’ supporters went too far in showing their displeasure at the team’s Afcon failure.

And the Nigeria Football Federation’s Technical Director wants his compatriots to focus on the sacrifices the players make when representing the fatherland.

“People need to act responsibly and not turn their disappointments into hate speech and threats against some players,” coach Eguavoen told Al Jazeera.

“These players gave their everything and there is no way you can single them out for blame.

“Playing for Nigeria comes with a lot of pressure, but you cannot bully, threaten or abuse someone for defending the honour of the country because you have access to social media. This is wrong and irresponsible.”

Eguavoen vacated his role as the interim head coach of the Super Eagles after the team was knocked out of the Nations Cup.

But the NFF’s appointed manager Jose Peseiro is yet to take over as the substantive head coach of the three-time continental champions.

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