The Nigeria national team have been left scratching their heads over last week’s defeat to South Africa, with some players even going as far as to suggest the match ball played a role in their downfall.
Bafana Bafana earned their first-ever competitive win over the Super Eagles on Saturday as Stuart Baxter’s team carved out a 2-0 victory in their opening 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Nigeria’s own backyard.
The Eagles have since been left searching for answers to their toothless performance, with some pointing at the fact they were unable to train with the CAF match-approved balls prior to the game as Nigeria’s consignment of 250 balls was held up in customs awaiting clearance.
That meant the Nigeria team trained with their own kit-sponsored balls, and only got a touch of the CAF ball when they borrowed several from their opponents during the pre-game warm-ups.
“It’s not the reason we lost but we trained with different balls only to use another ball for the game,” one player, who requested anonymity, told BBC Sport.
Another player also speaking on condition he is not named said: “To borrow match balls from your opponent is not only bizarre but embarrassing.”
South Africa were unable to maintain their momentum from their win over Nigeria as they slumped to a 2-1 defeat to Zambia in a friendly international on Tuesday.