Once
again, I choose to say the Super Eagles lost to Ethiopia because the ever
critical and in most cases illiterate Nigerian public and media have acted like
the team lost the game.

The
national team played three group stage matches in the Africa Cup of Nations,
AFCON, drew two and won one and only failed to top the group on goals
difference yet Nigerians have slated the team as though they were disgraced out
of the competition.
Before
we look at what is wrong with the Nigerian team (because it is still a work in
progress) are there really any positives from the game against Ethiopia?
Nigeria
qualified despite the pessimism
The
fact that Nigeria qualified from the group despite the negative vibes around
the team is the biggest of them all.
Eight
out of ten Nigerians on the streets didn’t just feel the team was not good enough;
it seemed most actually wanted the Eagles to lose out in the first round.
Listening
to fans on radio, reading them on twitter and pundits too it was like a
consensus that the team would return home after the first round.
The
champions, Zambia are out, same as Morocco, Angola, Congo Dr, Algeria and
Tunisia yet these countries have had more praise than Nigeria from the Nigerian
public.
Stephen Keshi is
still the Big Boss
In
my previous piece I wrote about Keshi being at the AFCON and World Cup in 1994
merely as compensation for his long and meritorious service to the national
team that started in 1991. On current form then, Keshi did not deserve to be in
those tournaments.
I
also stated that after Joseph Yobo’s performance against Burkina Faso, he
needed to be pushed back to just a motivational role in the team.
The
fact that Yobo, the captain sat out the game against Zambia and made only a
cameo appearance against Ethiopia shows that Keshi will do what he has to do to
succeed.
Again,
we saw the coach starting Sunday Mbah from Nigerian League side, Warri Wolves
ahead of Nosa Igiebor also shows he has balls and yes, Mbah was outstanding in
midfield.
Mikel Obi,
Oboabona and Moses
Many
people may disagree with this, but from what I have seen in three games, the
national team is beginning to get leaders.
Nigerians
can criticize John Mikel Obi as much as they like but he has shown himself a
leader on the pitch for Nigeria.
Yes
he can be sluggish at times but he certainly gives his all whenever he plays.
A
case in point was the game against Ethiopia and the yellow card he received.
Nigeria
had a free kick late in the game taken by Mikel Obi at the edge of the
Ethiopian box. That kick almost resulted in a goal but caused the Ethiopians to
counter attack.
It
was Mikel Obi who ran back to defend, fouling the Ethiopian at the edge of the Nigerian
box in the process and getting that yellow card.
Mikel
missed a penalty against Zambia, but aside that he has been huge in the midfield
for the Super Eagles.
Godfrey
Oboabona has been immense in the center of defence and writing more about him
would be akin to over flogging the issue. He is said to be a revelation of the Nigerian
team to those who do not watch the Nigerian League. There are actually a lot of
them like that in the league seeking a chance to strut their stuff on the big
stage.
Finally
Victor Moses showed that he can take matters into his own hands when with less
than fifteen minutes left to play and seeming like the country wouldn’t score,
Moses took on the defense himself, twice to win penalties for the Eagles.
For
the second penalty, Moses could have easily squared the ball to Ahmed Musa who
was in the six yard box screaming for the pass but Moses did it himself.
Play
like these remind one of Sunday Oliseh, Okechukwu Uche and Daniel Amokachi.
Basically
the team is still getting their acts together and the next game can only be
better than the former.
First clean
sheet at the AFCON
It
was two games of scoring first and conceding late equalizers so a clean sheet
in the final game was a welcome development, opposition notwithstanding.
Agreed,
the goalkeeper was called to duty on more than one occasion, but isn’t that why
he’s part of the team?
Why are the fans
angry?
Despite
all of this, the fans and media think the team is not doing well.
People
have complained that the coach “cannot read the game”. Whatever that means.
They
say he makes wrong substitutions. Obviously no two Nigerians would agree on the
same substitution because every Nigerian who knows why a football bounces is a
beer parlour (pub) coach.
I
remember Clemens Westahof about twenty years ago harassed by the same Nigerian public
and press.
Westahof
simply said, “Nigeria has one hundred million coaches. I thank God I am the
Technical Adviser.”
Some
said the coach shouldn’t have gone defensive bringing in Yobo when the
Ethiopians were there for the killing.
These
are the same Nigerian pundits and fans who said twice that the coach should
have gone defensive to hold on to his lead in the previous games against Zambia
and Burkina Faso but that is Nigeria.
Avoiding
the Ivory Coast was the last thing on the minds of the players at that time. Their
preoccupation was to qualify.
It
is the fans who fear the next opposition, the players do not. They see
themselves as equals.
The
coach was more interested in keeping a clean sheet than avoiding an overrated
country whose so called golden generation have not won the AFCON in four
previous attempts.
Tactics on
display
A
lot has been said about tactics with many Nigerians claiming that the coach of
the Super Eagles is bereft of ideas.
Apparently,
every Nigerian is a coach but Keshi remains the head coach of the Super Eagles
until such a time he is relieved of his appointment.
Most
Nigerians want the Eagles to play fancy but do we have the personnel to play
fancy?
I
remember Shaibu Amodu once replying to critics and saying Nigeria does not have
a World Class team and he became the most hated man in the country.
Could
it be that the coach is just playing to the strengths of the team? I remember
the same people pelting the Super Eagles with rocks who are fans of Chelsea but
were happy at the display of the team last year when they won the UEFA
Champions’ League.
My
point is that performance never wins games, neither does fluidity. What will win
games is results and so far the Eagles have got the results, just like Amodu
got results before then and Samson Siasia did not.
Disappointing play?
By
what Nigerians have taken to be their standards, the Eagles have been disappointing
and most times a bit one dimensional.
Ahmed
Musa has not worked so far and the much wanted Ikechukwu Uche in the starting lineup
got his chance against Ethiopia but was simply not there.
The
team has also lacked fluidity and the goals are not coming in large numbers.
We
have failed to dispatch Burkina Faso, Zambia and Ethiopia, probably scoring 12 goals
and conceding none (As if that has ever happened)
Funny
enough the same Nigerians who campaign on social media and radio programs that
the Eagles and poor and don’t deserve to win anything are the same sorry fans
of Chelsea and Arsenal who stupidly say “Cheslea for Life” and “Arsenal for
Life” to clubs they really have no ties to.
Their
so called European clubs post poor results week in week out but you never hear
them say they won’t watch them anymore
There is just one
Super Eagles team
There
is only one Super Eagles team and though I won’t be deluded enough to say it
has been a rosy performance by the team, I insist that performance never wins
you anything but results and we have the results going for us.
I
enjoy the games and take whatever results that come because Nigeria is clearly
not the best team in Africa anymore but the fans fail to realize that and
always put pressure on the Federation to sack coaches who do not win the World
Cup.
Am
I happy with the performance of the team so far? Certainly not because I believe
they can do a little better but will I take the results that have come? Of course
I will.
Finally
I will not slate my national team without reason and in anther breath say Arsenal,
Chelsea or Liverpool for life.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Exactly my words! Nigerians are too negative towards their fellow citizens. I mean what is the meaning of ARSENAL FOR LIFE? Why not SUPER EAGLES FOR LIFE?

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