Category Archives: CAF
The exploits of the Super Eagles of Nigeria at the last Africa Nations Cup are still fresh in our memories. Like many outstanding teams of the past, they must now focus their attention on the new challenge ahead of them. Getting soaked in or carried away by past successes had been the albatross of potential greatness in some of our past teams.
I could recall the euphoria that followed our triumph at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics in the United States of America after the ‘Dream Team’ won the gold medal of the men’s football event. It was as if Nigeria had won the FIFA World Cup. Being the first African country to achieve that feat didn’t help matters as we were celebrated by all and sundry.
First of all, let me start by thanking the Super Eagles for pleasantly surprising all of us. I congratulate Nigerian football fans that have waited for almost two decades to win the ‘big one’ in Africa again. I would be the first to admit that this victory is ‘sweeter’ than that of 1994. I cherish this victory more due to the fact that most; if not all the pundits in the world put Nigeria in the fifth place among the likely winner of the AFCON 2013.
Those who read me on this blog would note the fact that I had always believed in the team but not to the extent that they would go all the way in South Africa. I developed a keen interest in the team as I watched Stephen Keshi took the bull by the horns in inviting new players to the squad.
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.
I wrote in the past of football pundits and analysts who seemingly want to take over the role of Nostradamus by predicting matches. The truth of the matter is that it is impossible to predict football matches. Those who try to do it most often times than not get their noses bloodied.
The general consensus was that the Super Eagles would be beaten ‘thoroughly’ by the super stars of Cote d’Ivoire. If one had to believe all that was written and said in the past four days, it wouldn’t be out of sorts to concluded that Nigeria would be disgraced against the Ivoirians. It was as if football is no longer played on the pitch but on pundits and analysts tables.
The match against Zambia has come and gone. The debates surrounding the outcome would however continue for a while due to the controversial penalty awarded against Nigeria towards the end of the match. It should be repeated here that Nigeria had faced two poor referees in the matches played so far at the ACN.
One could only hope that the third and final group match against Ethiopia would reflect the best officiating available on the continent. In this regard, I must commend the NFF for formally complaining about the officiating in the match against Zambia. I expect more of this type of action in the future. There is no point in condoning glaring injustice or suffering in silence.