June 2019 was the month of the Africa Cup of Nations and as Nigerians, it was good to be back at Africa’s biggest football showpiece for international teams.
But first up was the joy in the eyes and voice of Ola Aina when he found out he had made the final cut to the AFCON party.
Aina had broken into the team about two years earlier but was dropped from the Russia 2018 World Cup party, so you would understand his joy at being part of the AFCON 2019 team.
“I’m happy. I am happy. It is a long time coming so I am happy,” Aina said in June.
His close friend in the team, Kelechi Iheanacho was dropped and Aina had some words of encouragement for him.
“It is unfortunate. They also deserve to be here, but they should keep their heads up and be ready for the next season. There is so much more to come.”
Mikel returned to the Super Eagles
Middlesbrough midfielder, John Mikel Obi returned to the Super Eagles after one full year out of the team.
Obi had not been part of the team since after the World Cup in Russia a year earlier and he tried to explain why he stayed out of the team.
“There was really nothing much. Nothing happened. I have an understanding with the coach. Yes, I had few injuries but I thought I needed a bit of rest. I have been doing this for about 15 years from the junior national teams so I said, you know what, I will take some time off,” Mikel Obi said.
Boring, boring Super Eagles
Another challenge that football watchers faced in June especially those who wanted to see the Super Eagles play at the AFCON was boring football.
The Eagles seemed to have no style as the coach, Gernot Rohr set his team out to not lose, rather than to win games.
Lagos based football and basketball writer, Bode Oguntuyi was almost in tears when he spoke to NigerianFootballer.com about what the team needed to do to play better.
“I think the question is not about what the Eagles should do, but what the coach and the coaching crew should do,” Oguntuyi said.
“Against Burundi, the Eagles played better when certain things were done. I think it depends on the way the coach sets his team and put the players where they should be.”
But Biola Kazeem, another football writer and promoter, based in Lagos, in his response said he was not interested in how well the Eagles played but if they won their games.
“As to what we have to do to play football that is pleasing to the eyes, my opinion about tournament football is that the focus is to win, Kazeem said.
“So, the most important thing a manager should do is to figure out a way, tactics, form, shape that allows us to win. Playing well is secondary to winning in tournament football. We only remember the team that wins. That is my opinion,” Kazeem said.
The review of the 2019 football year in Nigeria continues on these pages.