One of the show piece venues that would welcome thousands of fans of the game during the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
Current world best footballer (fourth consecutive time). Genius on the field and a great guy off it!
Looking forward to 2014 as Brazil hosts the world in the greatest football fiesta.
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.
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.