Former Nigeria winger, Tijani Babangida has advised the Super Eagles coaching crew not to be overly reliant on Emmanuel Emenike in the country’s quest for sustained glory.
The Atlanta 96' Olympics soccer gold medal winner for Nigeria was the 'Legend of the Night' at the Heineken Champions Planet during the second leg semi-final match of the Uefa Champions League.
He told a parked gathering of invited guests and consumers that as a former football star, frequent injury to a player always has a lingering psychological effect. He wished Emenike could get back as soon as possible but in his absence, he cautioned that Nigeria must face the challenge of finding a suitable replacement for the upcoming matches next month.
Emenike, who had been on the side lines since the semi-final of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations, returned to action last week. However, the attacker also known as ‘Spartacus,’ sustained an injury to his internal meniscus and partial damage to the internal lateral ligament of the knee. He is scheduled for arthroscopic surgery in the near future.
"We are in a precarious situation for the World Cup qualifying matches, with the FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil also in June. Having won the Afcon early this year, we have to sustain a high standard at global level.
“Nigeria is blessed with potential from where we must find a replacement pending the return of Emenike. Becoming over-reliant on Emenike will equate us to a tag similar to the 'No Messi, No Barcelona' that the Catalan giants are currently living with now," he commented.
Babangida was on his second visit to the Heineken Champions Planet and was delighted to be in the near-stadium environment that was created by the International premium lager beer, HEINEKEN®.
"It’s really nice to be here again, and to mix freely with my numerous fans who are well informed on the UEFA Champions League competition. To be in the 'Hot Seat' during the interactive session reminds me of my playing days when we were preparing for a big match and the coaches had to drill us to the optimum level.
“I have my sympathy for the many fans of the Spanish clubs who were looking forward to watching either Real Madrid or FC Barcelona at the Wembley final. I think they have to live with the reality that the Bundesliga is in the driving seat today," he observed.
The previous night, Real Madrid had seemed on the verge of a shock qualification after two late goals, and many fans of FC Barcelona at the Heineken Champions Planet on Wednesday night showed great optimism that their club could pull together a great comeback against Bayern Munich, but the night did not turn out as such.
The Germans scored three goals in the second half to silence the loyal fans at the Heineken Champions Planet and the 97,000 crowd at the Camp Nou to signal what many will refer to as 'end of an era' in club competition.