I
am not in South Africa for the AFCON 2013. I plan to go and may still go in
time for the semi finals but thank God for technology I am able to see what
goes on there as though I am present.

I
have watched the Super Eagles play against Burkina Faso on Television; I have
watched clips of their training sessions on TV too and I have seen photographs
of their training sessions.
Then
the team has a media officer, Ben Aliya who sends emails on almost daily basis
so we get to know a lot of what happens in the camp and it is based on this I am
asking who is distracting the Super Eagles?
Certainly
not the South African ladies and I am sure our players have not had close
contact with the Ethiopian girls yet (I have been to Ethiopia before and their
girls? You can write a book on them).
I
also know the players have not gone clubbing yet. That will only happen after
their third group match whether the team qualifies for the quarter finals or
not.
So
who on earth is distracting the Super Eagles?
Enter Faro
training camp
On
January 8, 2013, a press statement sent via email from the team’s media officer
said Nigeria’s sports minister and chairman of the National Sports Commission,
Mallam Bolaji Abdulahi was in Faro to visit the team whilst they prepared for
the Africa Cup of Nations.
Now
don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with Nigeria’s sports boss visiting
the national team of the country before a major championship, is there?
But
let us read on.
The
subject of that email was “Minister
trains with Eagles ahead of Cape Verde friendly”
A
part of that press release is reprinted below
Sports Minister, 
Mallam Bolaji Abdulahi, who came into the Faro, Portugal camp of the
national team at noon on Tuesday, underlined his youthfulness as he still find
time to be at the team’s training session, at 3:30pm Portuguese time (4:30pm
Nigeria), observing every move of the players and the Stephen Keshi led
technical crew.
Also present with the minister was the Director,
Elite Athletes in the Sports Ministry, Dr Bolaji Ojo-Oba, the minister took
time to make a personal observation and declared that he was encouraged to come
and watch the team in Faro, Portugal, after a superlative performance against
the Catalan Selected side, which the Eagles held to a 1-1 draw in Barcelona
last Wednesday.

I
need to ask again, did the sports minister really train with the Super Eagles
in Faro? A team preparing for a major competition? Why exactly? At what time
did he train with them? While they should have been doing their own training
and perfecting strategies for the AFCON?
What
point was he trying to prove? Was it his youthfulness?
Okay,
let’s move on
January 9, Faro
In
another email, titled, Eagles Will Lack
Nothing At SA 2013-Abdulahi
The
sports minister addressed the team assuring them that they won’t lack anything and
I will just print a part of the message
Sports Minister, Mallam Bolaji Abdulahi, has assured
that the Super Eagles will lack nothing in terms of welfare at the forthcoming
South Africa 2013 Nations Cup.
Addressing the players and officials in company of
Director of Elite Athletes, Dr Bolaji Ojo-Oba and NFF President Alhaji AMinu
Maigari, Abdulahi said that President Goodluck Jonathan approved all his
requests for a successful outing at the Nations Cup. “ I want to win the Nations
Cup as a Minister, you the players also want to win the championship, but I may
not achieve my aim if you the players don’t think you need to win the
championship”, he said rhetorically.
The Minister said he believes there is no team as
talented as the Nigerian side in the coming championship and again reminded the
players to give Nigeria and President Jonathan a New Year present by winning
the championship with the talents available.
NFF President Aminu Maiagari thanked the Minister
for finding time in his tight schedule to visit the team in camp saying he
knows the workload of the Minister and he was sure that the team will not let
Nigerians down at the SA 2013 championship.
Now
there is nothing really wrong in the country’s sports boss giving a team some
words of encouragement but the frequency of it distracts the team.
Having
worked with a football team in competition before I know the players live a
regimented life and every time of their day is planned for.
They
are either eating, or sleeping or training or just allowed to lay on their
beds, I’m sure you get the picture but who can stop the minister from
addressing the boys if he went all the way from Nigeria to Faro in Portugal to
do that? Did it really matter what the players were doing at the time he
visited?
Remember
that a day earlier he had trained with the team and the next he was addressing
them.
January 23, Nelspruit
Now
the team has arrived in South Africa and has played one game against Burkina
Faso which of course we all know ended in a draw.
In
preparation for the Super Eagles’ next game against Zambia, the minister and
his entourage went visiting the team again.
This
time two days to the duel against Zambia and what was it like?
I
will just reprint a portion of the press statement.
…Abdulahi,
Maigari Motivate Team
..As training progressed, NFF President, Alhaji
Aminu Maigari arrived with, Vice President, Chief Mike Umeh, Media Committee
Chairman, Chief Emeka Inyama, Finance Committee Chairman, Shehu Adamu, two
other Executive Committee members and NFF Director, Technical, Dr Emmanuel
Ikpeme to watch the session.
After training Maigari took time off to address the
players and assure them that the nation still expects them to do well at the
championship, despite drawing the first game against Burkina Faso…
…Just as Maiagri was rounding off his address,
Sports Minister and Chairman of the National Sports Commission, Hon Bolaji
Abdulahi called in and spoke to the players on speaker phone. Like a general
addressing his troops, he told the players to forget the game against the
Burkinabes and focus on its remaining group games as the tournament has proven
to be one full of surprises. “The entire country from President Goodluck
Jonathan down to the pepper seller in the remotest part of Nigeria is solidly
behind you”, he said.
Now
do we still need to ask who is distracting the Eagles? Do we have to address them
after every other training session? After addressing them in Nigeria, in Faro
and on arrival in South Africa, don’t the players know the task at hand?
Telling
them that everyone who sells pepper in the remotest part of Nigeria is solidly
behind them?  
Knowing
the antecedents of Nigeria’s footballers especially when the wins begin to come
and when the team qualifies for the quarter finals, the camp commandant will
have a tough job to do stopping the South African, Ethiopian and Nigerian girls
from getting close to the players.
But
has anyone asked who stops all these government officials from visiting the
players and telling them about pepper and garri sellers all over the country?
I
am only just thinking aloud. I guess the English teacher calls that “Soliloquizing”
Keshi’s birthday
bash
I
hear the coach of the Super Eagles had a low key birthday celebration a few
days ago. He turned 51.
I
thank God he also said he was not an age cheat and is actually 51.
He
also did little or nothing on his birthday because of the big task at hand but
here’s hoping that the players give him a big birthday present  by beating Zambia’s Chipolopolo on Friday.
 Pic: Super Eagles players waiting to be addressed by the Minister in Abuja

1 COMMENT

  1. Just wait until they beat Zambia, that is when you will see the main distraction, because then the president, first lady, 36 Governors, their wives, pastors and all political B….. will visit, call, address, pray and prophesy for them.

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