Despite the Super Eagles’ inability to qualify for the Qatar 2022 World Cup, Austin Eguavoen remains optimistic about the team’s future.
Before taking over as interim coach in 2010, following the resignation of Lars Lagerback and before Samson Siasia was hired, Eguavoen led the team to a bronze medal at the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations.
The 56-year-old, who stepped down as the Eagles’ interim coach after archrivals Ghana drew Nigeria 1-1 in Abuja to qualify for Qatar 2022 on the away goal rule, insisted he was still one of the country’s greatest managers.
“If there is still an opportunity for me, I would like to coach the Eagles again, but not just now, maybe later,” Eguavoen remarked on Monday Night Football on SuperSports.
“If the opportunity to manage the team arises again, I will gladly accept.” I’m still one of the country’s best coaches. It’s simply a matter of time before I can prove a point.
“I have no regrets about taking the job. I couldn’t say no when you’re asked to serve your country.”
In the second leg in Abuja, Eguavoen cited his team’s lack of character and courage as a major factor for their defeat.
“When it meant most, we lacked the character and zeal to beat Ghana,” he continued.
“It ended that way because the Ghanaians showed they wanted it more than our boys.” None of that was done by us. How do you win if you don’t battle or push hard enough for the winner? It’s the same with fast-paced football, where chances are created but aren’t taken.
“The Ghanaians were superior in Kumasi, but the Eagles were the better team in Abuja, but they couldn’t win.”
“Games between Ghana and Nigeria are typically difficult to predict. I would have considered myself a failure if we had lost in Kumasi or Abuja, but we lost on the road. We didn’t lose the game, but we did miss out on a World Cup berth.”
He also refuted accusations that he was sacked by the NFF, claiming instead that he resigned.
“There were many emotions flowing through my head after the game, and after 48 hours, I wrote to the NFF thanking them for giving me the opportunity to lead the squad.” The goal had been to qualify for the World Cup, but we failed to do so, therefore I stood aside and returned to my position as Technical Director of the NFF.”
During his three-month tenure as Eagles coach, he won four games, drew two, and lost one.