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Before we crucify the Super Eagles
It is now more difficult than ever before to separete the undesirable socio-political situation in Nigeria with what has finally caught up with the ultimate passion of a typical Nigerian, our ever unifying football. The performances of the super eagles so far in Ghana 2008 can be summarized in one word: dismal. When Cameroun lost 2-4 to Egypt, they played with zeal until the last blast of the whistle. When Benin were thrashed 1-4 by Ivory Coast, the Beninoise where still goal hungry until the final seconds. Omotoyosi celebrated his last minute goal like it was the opener of the day.
Nigerian footballers have caused many Nigerians heartache, headache and hypertension. In 1994, a number of people died from hypertension when Nigeria lost to Argentina at the Mundial-US 94. Since we are not a statistics-loving people, we don’t really care how certain things affect our lives and the implications for public health especially.
As Nigeria draws Mali in Ghana 2008, my friends were having headaches, fever and all kinds of patriotic illnesses. I’d warned two of them before the tournaments to just watch the games and enjoy the moment rather than get hooked on their super eagles that are usually lackadaisical in major tournaments. It is hard not to be patriotic though.
Simply, the eagles played like there was nothing at stake while the other countries sweat things out. There was lack of motivation generally. The players remain individuals on the field and it was difficult to realize that they were supposed to play as a team. The incohesiveness was obvious. There was complete lack of team formation and the coaching crew was clueless at to what to do with the type of substitutions made. I can’t say the eagles lack strength or stamina because I watch many of them playing at their individual club sides. So, we need to know why they lost motivation and played so carefreely.
Crashing out after the preliminary round would not be a bad idea. It will allow Nigeria to go back to the drawing board and try to figure out why we have to struggle at the Nations’ Cup despite the abundance of talents that are flooding Nigerian streets. Crashing out now will allow us to ask questions and seek answers. It will also enable us to know if we can learn from silly and unnecessary mistakes.
Football is not easy and every country and every team wants to win. Every nation small and big is making progress and developing their games. Yet, with what I know about Nigerian football and with my very little experience as a street footballer, I know that what I have seen in GHANA 2008 is unacceptable and that kind of display does not symbolize Nigerian football. Such a display will NEVER earn a 2010 world up ticket. Therefore it is imperative that something urgent and drastic is done.
I am an advocate of a Nigerian coach for our national teams. Give the eagles a national coach and give him the same respect and tools that you give to a foreign coach. I am optimistic that Nigerian coaches in the caliber of late Yemi Tella exist somewhere. I hope Nigeria can find a Nigerian coach who is not sentimental about tribes and one that does not seek “favour for favour” when fielding a player. Merit will take Nigerian football to the pinnacle of world football.
There are many other ways to diagnose the ongoing dilemma facing the Nigerian super eagles and the webs and newspapers will be flooded in the months ahead regardless of where the eagles land at the end of GHANA 2008.
In the end, one can easily see how the nonchalant attitudes in public service have gradually eroded the values in Nigeria and how it has taken its toll on many frontiers of our lives. I am sure the players would have their own versions of the stories and we will hear them in the days ahead. I know a player who has played both matches (against Ivory Coast and against Mali) who is very unhappy with Berti Vogt. Indeed, he described Berti Vogt as “not good enough” for our national team. What I don’t know is if this is the opinion of the rest of the squad. In that case, their performances which we all know (is much better when they play club football) might be a reflection of their non-acceptance of Vogt and a way to get him sacked as quickly as possible. Afterall the Nations Cup is played every 2 years and before you know it, they are back in 2010 to prove a point depending on how the present dilemma is managed/played out.
Irrespective of where the eagles finally land, I hope the administration of football in Nigeria will finally end up in the right hands after this undesirable situation going on in Ghana.
UPDATED: 29th January 2008.
Nigeria makes it to Quarter Final.
The Super Eagles have the Ivorians to thank for advancing to the Quater finals of Ghana 2008. The Ivorians thrashed the Malians by 3 unreplied goals. Nigeria failed to find the back of the net when they played Mali.
Nigeria beat Benin by 2 goals to nothing and will now face the host nation Ghana in the quater final match on Sunday Feb 3rd.