Shattered Dreams… Lamentations of a Super Eagles’ fan

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Ufuoma Ebgamuno

How
did I manage to sleep last night?
Did
I even sleep?
Tossing
on the bed wondering where and why it all went wrong; like over 120 million
football loving Nigerians, I just cannot seem to get over the pain.
Wouldn’t
it have been a lot better not to have had our hopes raised?
Maybe
a bad result in Congo on Saturday, which was widely expected, would have made
more sense. Surely?
Instead,
we were all led on, like a sheep supposedly with a shepherd in Stephen Keshi.
And after 90 minutes in the Nest of Champions which is the Uyo International
Stadium, the flock has been “abandoned”; left to wander wherever it
deems fit.
The
2015 AFCON in Equatorial Guinea meant a lot more than just a competition for
me. It was supposed to be avenue to join the league of international
journalism. Having missed out of the 2013 AFCON and 2014 World Cup coverage,
Equatorial Guinea was supposed to be the pinnacle (or should I say start?) of
my budding journalism career. It was supposed ‎to launch me into that realm
that every sports journalist dream of. In fact, I’ve made lots of plans to have
my own personal syndicated programme broadcast across various stations in the
country. All that was left was just securing the golden ticket to Equatorial
Guinea……
As
I sit gloomily on my bed typing this, I’m just wondering where it all went
wrong. Should Keshi had been allowed back into the team? Were the NFF squabbles
responsible for this calamity? Should President Goodluck Jonathan ‎had taken
that veto stand that brought back Keshi?
I
think that 99% of this debacle rests entirely on the manager’s doorsteps as
much as the NFF president Amaju Pinnick has accepted responsibility. I was
never in support of sacking Siasia back in 2011 because I thought back then
that Siasia’s job was already compromised during Austin Eguavoen’s interim
rule. I wanted continuity (which sadly is something the Nigerian football
community isn’t used to except perhaps in administrative quarters). However, I
was also quick to congratulate‎ Keshi when he won the last AFCON as well as
spend what I think is eternity educating callers on my radio show that the
former Super Eagles captain isn’t as tactically naive or clueless as they make
him out to be.
But
how do you keep defending the seemingly indefensible?
How
do you explain the fact that the rationale that kept Victor Moses out (just
recovering from injury according to Keshi) didn’t also keep Kenneth Omeruo out
of the game vs South Africa‎?
How
do you defend the fact that Emmanuel Emenike played all 90 minutes despite
having a shocker when Emem Eduok could have probably added something different
in the last 20 minutes of the game?
How
do you defend the fact that Efe Ambrose has consistently played right back and
has only had probably one good game in that position?
How
do you defend the fact that Ogenyi Onazi, Godfrey Obuabuna, Kenneth Omeruo etc
are still riding on the crest of their AFCON performances when they have been
utterly abject in at least their last 6 games for the country?
How
do you defend the fact that Warri Wolves defender Azubuike Egwueke consistently
gets invited to the national team when in my humble opinion, there are at least
3/4 centre backs in the same Nigeria Premier League who are a lot better?
How
do you explain the invitations of certain names to the national team who after
you’ve seen them play you still can’t rationalise how they made the cut?
Yes,
Keshi has unearthed certain gems since he came on: the Sunday Mbas, Michael
Babatundes and most recently Aaron Samuels of this world may stand out. But it
doesn’t stop the allegations in several quarters that invitation to the
national team only comes when you’ve paid for it. Because certainly, I don’t
get how Chigozie Agbim gets the nod over say Enyimba’s Femi Thomas, Kano
Pillars’ Theophilus Afelokhai especially last season. Or how Azubuike Egwueke
is ahead of Enyimba’s Chinedu Udorji (on last season’s form not this just ended
campaign) or Pillars’ Umar Zango or even Sharks and Dolphins duo of Gabriel
Olalekan and Jonathan Zikiye respectively?

It
just feels sad that we are now back to where we are in 2011 after the Samson
Siasia deba‎cle. More painful is the fact that all you will hear our
administrators talk about now is the proverbial “going back to the drawing
board”. Unfortunately, from the look of things, that board, like my dreams
of making an international debut, may likely remain a shattered dream.

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