Former national goalkeeper Peter Rufai has urged Super Eagles players not to be discouraged by Nigeria’s latest FIFA rankings as they prepare for Russia 2018.
Rufai told newsmen in Birnin Kebbi on Sunday that the Super Eagles should not allow the drop in ranking to distract them from their preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Nigeria had dropped from 50th to 51st position in the world and 9th in Africa.
This was in spite of being the first team in Africa to qualify for Russia 2018 and beating highly-rated Argentina in a friendly in Russia.
“I think the FIFA ranking has nothing to do with expectations about the performance of the Super Eagles in any competition.
“The ranking involved some technical aspects. It has nothing to do with our performance, because the team is doing very well presently.
“I agree with this ranking, if we consider how we have played with the best teams in world. All that matters now is our preparations for any competition,” Rufai said.
He urged Nigerians not to worry about the FIFA ranking because the Super Eagles had qualified for the World Cup before the ranking.
“At least, we qualified even before most of the best-ranked teams in the world did.
“All we need now is to be focused and I believe that, one day, we will break the jinx again just like we qualified before most of the better-ranked African teams,” the former Super Eagles goalkeeper said.
He charged the Super Eagles players to be professional in all perspectives, saying the team’s technical hands at the moment were capable of doing a good job.
“We have good expertise at all levels of the technical leadership of the team.
“Our case is just like saying that Nigeria should employ a pilot that will be flying our planes.
“From outside views, I don’t have what I can tell an expert to fly a plane. I would only wait to get a report from an expert.
“Then, we all can rub minds together to determine whether it is safe to fly, if the weather is good or not. The pilot should know if it safe to fly or not, we can now start to deliberate.
“It is the same thing in football, giving advice does not mean I have played football before.
“If I am there, I can introduce my initiatives. But if an event occurs, and we have contents, then, we can deliberate on contents.
“Now, we have Gernot Rohr, and we have Salisu Yusuf. They also have many people at the Technical Department of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
“So, they are the people responsible for giving the team more technical advice than I should do.
“I think the Technical Department has everything available to it to lead us. It is only when they give us the contents that we can deliberate on it.
“That is my take, and so far, they are doing very well,” Rufai said.