By Eddie Akalonu
Former Nigeria Football Association first- vice chairman, Chief Gabriel Chukwuma, has urged Nigerians to have faith in the ability of the Super Eagles to fly the countryâ€™s flag high in next yearâ€™s FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
According to the proprietor of Gabros Football Club, the Eagles will not only come out as one of the best but will meet the high standard of the competition..
Speaking on telephone from his base in Anambra State on the challenges of the team at the Africa Nations Cup in Angola next month, Chief Chukwuma said the â€œteam will definitelyÂ meet expectations of Nigerians in the twin high profile football competitions taking place in two Southern African countries, Angola and South Africa.â€
â€œI believe the team will do well in the two competitions,Â it doesnâ€™t matter who is in our group becauseÂ we have crushed tougher opponents in past Nations Cup and World Cup,â€ he said, stressing that the â€œfearsÂ football lovers hold about Argentina, one of our opponents in Group B, are unfounded.â€
There is this thinking that Argentina means trouble as Nigeria may not advance from the group since the Argentines have beenÂ labeled one of the favourites to clinch the trophy.
Our Eagles have the capacity and ability to face tough opponents.
Mind you, I maintained during the qualifiers they would pick the ticket to South Africa. They did not only do it but also in dramatic style and form going by the way they beat Kenya on their own soil.
It shows the Nigerian spirit remains a reference point for todayâ€™s and future national team players.
And thatÂ spirit can be re-enacted at very crucial times. I feel they will take the same spirit to Angola and South Africa next year,â€ Chief Chukwuma noted of the Eagles.
Continuing, he said â€œArgentina may have been lucky winning in earlier meetings against us, but not anymore (because) we will win in South Africa.
Itâ€™s now our turn to make them weep and these Eagles will ensure this happens. Let me however, warn thatÂ we must not think aboutÂ Argentina alone but of other teams starting fromÂ Angola (Nations Cup) where everything must be done with the very best of resources.â€
â€œIn the World Cup, Greece are after the same laurels as we do and would want to advance from the group, so will the Koreans, who got up to the semi final in 2002. Korea canÂ be the back breaker, if we donâ€™ take their toughness and prowess in football in modern football into account. So, starting from Angola, ourÂ objectives must be clear to ensure success â€ he said.
â€œI know the players will again rise to the occasion in Angola and South Africa next year despiteÂ the low rating some Nigerians have given the teamÂ of late. I have the feeling that the Eagles will recreate the form and determination they are known for just like we saw in themÂ in the two competitions in1994.
Nigerians should begin to put good faith in the team as I have in them because when we collectively do, byÂ giving them the necessary support, the best will come our way from them.
I have great expectations,Â they will make the country proud in the two competitions,â€said the man who maintains he is an inspiring number one supporter of Enugu Rangers International FCÂ despite owning a club in the league.
Asked if he supports the moves by the NFF to hire a foreign coach in place of Shaibu Amodu to tinker the Eagles, Chukwuma responded this way â€œThat is notÂ necessary because past efforts failed with Bora, Libreghts, Berti Vogts, and others, They neverÂ helped our football grow.
The reasons are many. We do not know how to get a good foreign coach like other African countries who have tried it. Another attempt in this light will fail because we neither understand the criteria other countries use when searching for one nor have we the yardstick they deploy whenÂ assessing the person they want to sign.
If we knew the criteria or have persons who have foresight to assess coaches, we would have been successful in past efforts and not continually talk about this subject.
But it canâ€™t be forgotten how disastrous it had always been, bringing someone who drags our football back, not one that has the ability and knowledge toÂ move our football forward.
Thereâ€™s no guarantee of success. What we need is somebody better and greater than Amodu on the job. My feeling is that if you allow another try, they will end up bringing another person in Amoduâ€™s category, not someone better. That Nigeria does not need again,â€ Chief Chukwuma surmised.