Nigeria head coach Salisu Yusuf is delighted that his faith in top striker Anthony Okpotu eventually paid off in their African Nations Championship victory over Equatorial Guinea on Tuesday night.
23-year old Okpotu who was the Nigerian league highest goalscorer last season has come under severe criticisms for his performances in the Super Eagles opening games in Morocco but his coach, Yusuf stood by him.
The striker chose the right time to repay his manager’s faith by scoring the equaliser which set the tone for Nigeria’s comeback victory in Agadir.
“I am very happy for Okpotu because he put a lot of effort in all the three games we have played,” Yusuf told www.aclsports.com Chief Football Writer Fisayo Dairo.
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“He missed some chances but we need to get his confidence before the next (knock-out) game and we are very happy he scored. Now the pressure is off him and I believe he can score again,” he added.
Tuesday’s victory sealed Nigeria’s leadership spot in Group C and will see them face the second placed side in Group D. Yusuf highlights the importance of the team’s top table finish and their statistics from it.
“It is good to finish on top of the group. We scored four goals and one against us, it is good for the group (of players) and good for the confidence and belief of the team. I think we will face the next game with a positive mind.”
Nigeria’s team have four days to rest ahead of their quarter-final game on Sunday which is slated for the Stade Ibn Batouta in Tangier at 4:30pm local time (5:30pm in Nigeria).
Fisayo Dairo reporting from Agadir, Morocco