Category Archives: The Champion
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.
The saying that the only constant thing in life is change is quite apt when viewed from the background of Arsenal particularly with the most recent in their series of debacles. With all likely routes to silverware almost closed (except a miracle happens and Arsenal wins the European Cup), Wenger and his team face the toughest challenge of explaining away what happened on Saturday.
Arsene Wenger is obviously a very determined man. His determination could be seen from the level of his commitment to his ideas and visions. To him, the new standard to measure success at the top level, at least in the Premiership is qualification for the Champions League. And he has always managed to achieve this for the past 14 seasons.
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.
Only very few people expected the Super Eagles to get to the finals of the Nations Cup. A lot of the new ‘supporters’ had silently wished that the team crash out of the tournament so that the need for a world class ‘white’ technical adviser (we seem to be the only country still using that term for our senior team managers) could be sold to the powers that be in Abuja.
Somehow and in an unbelievable manner, Stephen Keshi and his team are in the finals and would make the day of millions of Nigerians tomorrow if they could finish the job they started three weeks ago by defeating the formidable Burkinabes. The achievement of the current Super Eagles when compared to the past teams is quite encouraging. The last time Nigeria had so many debutants at a major tournament was in the Nations Cup hosted by Algeria in 1990.
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.