“The referee won the game for Nigeria. He denied us two penalties and gave them a soft penalty”, he explained to the press after the match.
The Walyas were reportedly looking to turn the 2-1 advantage the Super Eagles had prior to the kick off around by netting at least one goal in the early stages of the match. However in the 19th minute, Gambian referee Bakary Papa Gassama awarded a penalty kick after judging Aynalem Hailu to have handled a strike from Emmanual Emenike. Pundits say the goal from the penalty kick sealed the victory for Nigeria, as they were firmly cushioned by the two-goal margin.
The Ethiopian coach also revealed that the advantage of having more experience favored the Super Eagles over his side. He went on to congratulate his fellow coach Stephen Keshi and the Super Eagles on their victory. Adding that the Walyas “will continue to work hard so as to become one of the best teams in Africa.”
Despite the loss over the weekend, several pundits have commended the performance of the Walyas. According to an un-identified commentator, “going from being one of the lowest ranked teams in the continent to playing in the World Cup qualifier is quite impressive, considering that the level of competition has been steadily increasing in the continent.”
Their victory over the Walyas on Saturday makes the Super Eagles the first team on the continent to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Several commentators have superstitiously noted that it is befitting for the current African champions to lead continent’s charge to the World Cup.
Stephen Keshi, coach of the Super Eagles, revealed that his players were anxious prior to the match as their chance of making a fifth World Cup appearance stood on the balance. He described the Ethiopian coach as “smart”, adding that the Walyas defensive position caused a few difficulties for his players.
The national teams of Ivory Coast and Cameroon also qualified for the 2014 World Cup over the weekend after recording a draw against Morocco and a victory against Tunisia respectively.