Our team made not only a few proud with the way they dealt with the challenge of the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire in the quarter finals of the current African Cup of Nations holding in South Africa. The Super Eagles not only played like a team but they took the battle to their more favoured opponents right from the blast of the whistle. They worked hard for themselves and for our Nation in achieving what many had termed ‘impossible’ task.
I saw a Super Eagles that was tenacious, determined, committed, confident and sometimes audacious against the Ivoirians. The way and manner they approached the match showed clearly that Stephen Keshi and his team had done their homework on the Elephants. It was glaring from the 10th minute of that match Nigeria was not going to sit back and wait for the Ivoirians to attack. Obviously, this approach surprised the star studded Cote d’Ivoire team and they never recovered to ‘walk over’ the Super Eagles as many had predicted.
Now that we are in the semifinals and billed to trade tackles with the Malians, Nigeria must employ similar tactics against her new adversary. Having done the most unexpected in knocking out Cote d’Ivoire, we must not come short at this level against Mali. There must not be a repeat of the events of 2004 when Nigeria defeated Cameroun (tournament favourites) at the same stage only to bow out against eventual winners, Tunisia in the semis.
Stephen Keshi, his assistants and the players must all remain focused for the task at hand. Who says Nigeria cannot win this Nations Cup?
All we need to do is to prepare, prepare and prepare. Keeping focus on the match ahead without getting carried away with the euphoria of the last victory. As it is now, the Super Eagles must not dwell on the past but must look forward to the future of holding that glittering trophy. To achieve this is to make history and write their names in gold in the annals of Nigerian football.
Some are talking of motivation. But what greater motivation is there for a team looking at history? The players must motivate themselves beyond external promises. This is the way of Champions. They win because they want to not because someone promises them a plot of land, house or whatever.
The Super Eagles must realize that while they did not enjoy the support of the Nation till now, everyone is right now behind them. They must play like they haven’t played before against the Malians and ensure an appearance in the finals. In this regard, I join millions of my compatriots to wish them all the best and God’s speed.