Chief Adegboye Onigbinde, FIFA and CAF technical committee member, has warned Nigerians to stop underrating any country in football on the premise that there are no minnows in world football.
He gave the warning on Sunday against the backdrop of the 2014 World Cup qualification draws that pitied Nigeria in group F against Malawi, either of Seychelles and Kenya and the qualifier of the preliminary match between Djibouti and Namibia.
He said that Nigerians have started underrating Super Eagles group opponents with comments he read on the pages of newspaper on Sunday advising Nigerians to always believe that football is a game between two opponents of 11 players each.
He said these so called minnows have embarrassed Nigeria in the past, noting that, time has come for Nigerians to learn from past mistakes.
According to him, “When we were preparing for the 2006 World Cup in Germany, we thought we were in a soft group. But what happened at the end of the day? We failed to qualify. When are we going to learn?”
“As far as I am concerned, no group is easy and there is no group of death. This Malawi during the 1984 African Cup of Nations finals almost embarrassed us in Bouake. They led 2-0 until we leveled up the match later. We should desist from the art of saying a team is weak. We should start realizing that every team is as strong as we are,” he said.
In the same vein, Super Eagles former assistant coach, Joe Erico, warned against assuming that the group will be an easy one for the team.
Speaking in a separate interview, Erico, advised that preparations for the World Cup should commence immediately, urging football authorities to concentrate on the team taking part in the ongoing FIFA U-20 World Cup in Colombia.
He said most of the countries in Colombia for the U-20 World Cup are using it to groom their players for the 2014 World Cup since most of the players will be between 22-24 years in 2014.
“We should start projecting these U-20 players for the World Cup, if truly they are really U-20. If they are not, I think we should not bother ourselves with the World Cup.
Erico added that no group is easy, every group is scared because anything can happen before the qualifiers start.