By Aderonke Ogunleye-Bello
Originally written in August 2015
On that fateful Night, Uncle Femi rushed to my Dad’s Peugeot 504 to get the car battery, connected to the TV set, it came alive, NEPA had earlier seized power, and, once again we continued with the Nigeria vs Italy at the group stage of the FIFA World Cup, USA ’94.
The Nigeria Super Eagles as at then, was the first African country to be ranked 5th in Global football and so far,the peak of their ratings. Present day, they have capsized like a damaged boat, thrown into a museum where they become an historical object.
The Most Senior National Football team has been reduced to nothing but a laughing object, unfortunately they have gone from Super ‘Eagles’ to Super ‘Chicken’ what went wrong is the question on the lips of many Nigerians.
Exit of fine footballers like Rashidi Yekini, JayJay Okocha, Samson Siasia, Celestine Babayaro, Kanu Nwankwo and many others is not a blessing as we only produce average players without solid talents, a player who seem to be exemplary at the start of his career starts to either get distracted, or become so rich, rude and nonchalant, hence we fail as a Nation. However, these players give their best to club and nothing to country
We have gotten to a stage where players want to adorn the jersey for show off or to attract better clubs, most of them do not have the Nation’s interest at heart, Sports Psychologists and Administrators need to repair their damaged impression, this is so wrong.
The Nigeria Football Federation need to revive the Super Eagles and take them back to the Glory days, the African Cup of Nations was won by proxy, and I don’t believe the Eagles were so good. They did not deserve to win that tournament, I was there from start to finish, it was a poor and lucky Team. As a Nigerian I’m happy we won, but after winning what happened, we collapsed yet again, and could not defend the trophy, Nigeria did not qualify. #EpicFail
Managed with a slim chance to qualify for the world cup, the Squad to the World Cup and Confederations Cup was the worst in the History of the Super Eagles, that squad will be easily defeated by a combination of Kano Pillars and Enyimba International best legs, their performance was poor, yet record was repeated. We cannot always build or rate the Eagles on mere luck. Unacceptable.
Nigeria is blessed with a lot of football Academies, as a matter of fact, it is the in-thing now, the NFF should go back to the roots, get genuine scouts, regulate these Football academies properly, get fully involved. We are a people of 170million and getting 30 solid players out of that should not be a big deal, players should be given trials from time to time, let us end godfatherism in players selection, let us be real if we want to improve. Provide an enabling environment to all and sundry.
Kudos and Many Thanks to the former NFF President, Alhaji Sani Lulu Abdullahi in conjunction with Pa Festus Onigbinde for the Fantastic idea and for inventing the U13 National Team. These set of kids moved to the U17 and later won the FIFA World Cup in 2013, the same set won the All African Games for the U20, that is passing a message, right?.
Shamefully, the NFF have scrapped the U13 National Team, I always ask myself, but why? Whatever happened to continuity, my heart bleeds for our Football.
And to the Coaches, stop selling players to do businesses, sentiments will not win you tournaments, solid talents is what you need, recently, a player was heavily criticized because he came from China, but truly he had a good match, he scored, and realistically not a Super Eagles material, there are better players who can dominate the field well and bring back the glory.
Must it be foreign based all the time? Big clubs and Big names do not play football as far as I’m concerned. Pure talents, those who know the joker card of the game can do it.
Sponsors are no longer coming and they will rather put their monies on Talent shows which is more genuine than the Super ‘Chicken’ as people mockingly address them.
Stephen Keshi has been reappointed as the head coach, how far can he go? It will take time and it is a process, he has to be real, cooperate with his backroom staff, work with the NFF Technical department, He cannot do it alone. We need good heads to come together and take us higher.
Gently, Uncle Femi returned the battery to the car after Roberto Baggio had stopped our chance of getting to the Quarter-Finals, We were all sad and retired into our bedroom, Anty Taiye my Uncle’s girlfriend was inconsolable, she wept bitterly. Those were the glory days.