Eagles World Cup stars celebrate Lions after ouster

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Nigeria’s World Cup stars have hailed Morocco for their incredible run at the ongoing Qatar 2022 World Cup, which ended on Wednesday after they crashed out in the semi-finals in Qatar. The Atlas Lions lost 2-0 to champions France on Wednesday, after an amazing run in the tournament, which saw them defeat favourites Belgium, Spain, and Portugal, on their way to becoming the first African side to reach the Mundial’s last four.

A goal in each half from Theo Hernandez and Kolo Muani sent the defending champions into the final of the World Cup for the second time in four years.

Speaking with The PUNCH in the wake of their defeat to France, ex-Super Eagles defender, Taribo West, who represented Nigeria at the 1998 and 2002 World Cups, said Morocco’s outstanding performance in Qatar opened a new chapter for African football.

“They have done very well, nobody expected Morocco to get to the last four of the 2022 World Cup,” Taribo said.

“In fact, I was betting on Ghana and Senegal to do well, but they crashed out too early from the competition and the Atlas Lions went ahead to reach the semis.

“I am impressed with how far they have gone in the tournament. Not only Morocco will celebrate this incredible revelation of the World Cup, Africans will celebrate the team, they have set a standard that every other African nation like Nigeria should emulate.”

Former Eagles assistant coach, Emmanuel Amuneke, a member of the USA ’94 squad, said, “For me, they have made history regardless of their defeat. They can now look back and see how they can improve on their achievements.

“They have shown the world that Africans have the quality to win the World Cup if they truly believe in themselves.”

Eagles two-time World Cup star, Mutiu Adepoju, praised Morocco for setting an African World Cup record.

“It is painful because they were so close to setting another enviable feat. Nevertheless, they have gone so far and their African record is now there to be matched by another team,” Adepoju said.

Also reacting to Morocco’s incredible feat, Atlanta ’96 Olympics Games gold medalist Joseph Dosu said, “That is football, it’s either you win or lose, and all hope is not lost. Africa still has the hope of winning a bronze medal against Croatia in their third-place match.

“Even if Morocco comes fourth, that means they are the fourth best football country in the world. They have done so well for themselves, and the players will be heroes when they return to their country.”

1980 AFCON winner, Sylvanus Okpala, added, “I am very satisfied because the semi-final already is even historic. It was a tough game for them, but they didn’t go down easily.”

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