Lagos – On Friday, football experts expressed disappointment with the officiating of the Nigeria-Zambia match at the ongoing African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in South Africa, which ended 1-1.
Reacting to the conduct and outcome of the encounter, some of the sports analysts separate telephone interviews in Lagos said that the penalty awarded against Nigeria was unjustifiable.
They also observed that the Super Eagles did not possess a good fighting spirit that would have enabled them to win the match.
Paul Hamilton, former Head Coach, Super Falcons, who expressed disappointment, said the players were casual in all their attempts.
Hamilton said that the Super Eagles were found of miss-appropriating opportunities, and that this led to the 1-1 draw.
"It was a very funny match as our guys played casually; we lost so many opportunities because their fighting spirit was low. Before you come out for a battle as an army, you need a great deal of determination to win; I am very disappointed," he said.
Hamilton said although the referee’s decision to award Zambia a penalty was questionable, he had the final say.
On his part, Henry Nwosu, an ex-international, said he was not happy with the referee’s decision to award a penalty against Nigeria.
Nwosu said the foul, which was committed in the second half of the match, was done on the 18 line-box and therefore, did not merit a penalty.
"The foul was committed just outside the 18 line-box and the Zambian striker fell into the box. It was bad officiating on the part of the referee," he said.
Joe Erico, also a former international player, said that both teams played well, but that Nigeria could have won if they had a more coordinated mid-field.
"We lacked control of the mid-field. Our passes were bad and not accurate, but I’m still optimistic that we would lift the trophy at the end of the tournament,” he said.
Sanni Ahmed, the Kano Pillars FC Coach, said he believed that there was a plot to make sure that Nigeria did not qualify for the next round of the competition.
"I believe there is a conspiracy among the officials to knock Nigeria out at the group stage.
"My advice to the Nigerian team is that they should concentrate in the mid-field because that is where they are lacking in the game play."
Adesegun Kosoko, the Chairman, Lagos State Football Referees Council, described the result as discouraging, stressing that the Eagles must win their last encounter with Ethiopia in the group stage match on Tuesday.
"Our boys played well but failed to make good their chances, and this is a problem. I pray they have luck in the next match," he said.
Kosoko urged the players to be more accurate in their passes and crossings.