By Jacob Ajom
Nigerians have continued to react to the 2010 FIFA World Cup draw held Friday in South Africa. Nigeria is in group C with two time champion, Argentina, former European champion, Greece and South Korea. The exercise which was most dreaded by Nigerians has been welcomed with cautious optimism after the group opponents were known.
The 2010 World Cup almost presented a similar scenario to the USA â€˜94 draw which witnessed Nigeria compete with Argentina, Greece and Bulgaria at the group stage. The Eagles then playing very inspiring football beat Bulgaria and Greece and lost to Argentina to qualify for the second round. That was the farthest the team could go as they were stopped by a more experienced Italy.
South Africa 2010 is here again with Nigeria pitched against Argentina and Greece. What prospects have the team in the tournament? Sports Vanguard went to town to seek peopleâ€™s opinions about Nigeriaâ€™s chances at the Mundial.
WAIDI AKANNI (former Chairman, Lagos State Football Association and a former youth international)
The opening group game with Argentina will be very crucial. Indeed, the Eagles should go in there with a winning mentality beecause that match wold define the extent they can go in the competition. A point in the opening game will mean a lot because you canâ€™t be sure of what will happen next.
I think what will go for the Eagles is the experience and previous result among the countries in the same group. The Eagles will have an air of superiority over their opponents. It all depends on the caliber of players Coach Amodu will parade; their mindset and psychological make up will matter in this battle of wits.
HENRY NWOSU, MON (former Nigerian international, former Golden Eaglets Chief coach)
Nigeria will come out tops of Group C. I see us qualifying with Greece from that group. We will beat Argentina in the opening group match. If you know Nigeria very well, you will know that we a a team that grows stronger as the tournament progresses. We start like lame dogs and end up strongly. The likes of Greece and Korea cannot stop us. The joy is most of the boys that were injured are recuperating. While some of our opponents have peaked long ago, we are just picking up.
What we need do is more grade A friendly matches. This will bring the players together, engender unity and team spirit. Those who get selected should merit their shirts, the coaches must not add sentiments to their job.
Of all the African countries, Cote dâ€™Ivoire have the toughest draw.
DUDU ORUMEN (former member of NFF Technical committee)
With a good coach, the Eagles can qualify from the group stage and go far, but definitely, not under Amodu.
FRIDAY KUJAH (Football ambassador)
The draw was like a dream come true. Nigeria is in a very good group. That is not to say we should underate any country in the group because every World Cup finalist is a potential champion. Hundreds of Peles or Maradonas or Okochas cannot win a game if they are not as a team. Nigerians should not jubilate yet.
To go far we need to support the Shaibu Amodu led technical crew. We must continue to thank God for our qualification and now the favourable draw.. We do not need a foreign coach. Amodu should be left alone to see us through the Nations Cup and the World Cup. Instead of vilifying him, I think Shaibu Amodu deserves the highest national award in Nigeria.
EMEKA OPARAH (Head of Corporate Communication, Zain)
The draw is very interesting. Itâ€™s a matter of eleven players against eleven. If Nigeria is the giant of Africa, we should be able to face any team from anywhere. But my worries come from what I saw of the Nigerian team during the qualifiers.
I think we should not be ashamed of hiring a foreign manager for the national team. England that started football today have an Italian as their coach. I reckon that Amodu has done well, but we have reached a level he can no longer cope. The national team need a manager with international exposure and the desired experience to help him out.
SAM AUDU (Editor, 4-4-2 Magazine)
A relatively fair draw, when you compare us with the likes of Ghana, Cote dâ€™Ivoire. First we need to win the Nations Cup in January, get the players to be familiar with eachother. But I insist we need a foreign coach.
There should be no fear about the timing because we still have at least six months to the World Cup. The Eagles are professionals. If under five months John Obuh could raise a team of amateurs for U-17 tournament why canâ€™t anybody so appointedÂ raise a good national team before the World Cup.
Engagement of a foreign coach for the team has been politicised and the NFF have brought a lot of sentiments to bear.Â The team that qualified for the World Cup was not good enough; they were not convincing. I believe there are still some good players that we can still inject into the national team and make it better. The coaches can go down to even the U-17 team for new players to beef up the team. They should stop playing politics with the foreign coach issue.