Abiodun Obafemi, an Olympic Gold winner with Nigeria, believes the nation has raised its status, after its 4-2 comeback victory over Argentina.
Sampaoli’s men stormed to a 2-0 first half lead, before goals from Iheanacho, Idowu and an Iwobi brace recorded a brilliant comeback for the Super Eagles.
And Obafemi has stated that ahead of the World Cup, Nigeria’s win has raised her status and they are not underdogs.
“It is quite an unbelievable result for me. Honestly, I didn’t see it coming. The players clearly played with all determination and strong character to win the match,” Obafemi told Goal.
“I must say, all the players were outstanding against Argentina. From the captain John Mikel Obi to Iwobi, Ihenancho, Ndidi and our new boys Idowu and goalkeeper Francis Uzoho – they were at their best. Iwobi, for me, has always shown potentials and he’s certainly a world-class player. I believe his best is yet to come and will be a star to watch next year in Russia.
“The victory was clearly a team success and the coach made a lot of difference with his substitutions. Nobody saw the comeback coming after we were two goals down. Beating a big football nation like Argentina is a big statement and will put us in the eye of the World ahead of the World Cup.
“We are getting better as a team and look to have great potentials to make a difference at the international level again. It will remain a talking point for weeks and months to come, even before the World Cup, however, we must not relent.
“This also shows, we can achieve anything if we put up out very best and stay strong through the match no matter the size of the opponent we are playing.
“I believe the team can go places and even surpass the previous records of African teams but we must work hard and not get carried away. With the victory, we won’t be seen as underdogs going to the World Cup, we start getting prepared for us with some fears in their minds.”
“Just like we had our bad day against South Africa in the Afcon qualifier, I want to accept it was the same for Argentina and could happen to anything. So, we must not get distracted by this feat but focus on building a solid and formidable squad to the World Cup,” he continued.
“I’m happy with Gernot Rohr’s performance so far. He is getting it right with every game. My colleagues may not be happy with me but he has not condoned sentiment, which is the biggest problem related with local coaches,” he continued.
“I can’t say it is about nepotism but we often allude to the mentality of appreciating players based on previous working relations, understanding and relationship. That has been the bane of our failure over the years. But we must give it to Rohr with the great competition he has brought into the team, I believe he will get us far this time.
“Considering what he has achieved already, we must learn from him and give him the best support and all the encouragement he needs to succeed.”