By Paul Bassey
I start by apologizing sin-cerely for not writing last week.

I am in the middle of a project that has further strengthened my belief that the future of this country lies in our hands and it is up to us to either make or mar it. In Calabar where I am supervising a holiday coaching clinic in track and field for secondary school students courtesy Mobil Producing Nigeria, I daily come across so much potentials, that I daily believe.

I can imagine if a programme like this was replicated in all the states of the federation, even in as many sports. Let me start this weeek’s column by telling you a true life story of two young boys of about 13, born into two different football families.

A study of their life has revealed that while the Arsenal boy has grown to be morose, tired with life and dreading every week end of his football life, the boy from Man U has grown to be very cheerful, full of life, sporting a confident gait and so full of confidence.

Three days ago, I was the recipient of a news release by the Press chieftains of the Honourable Minister/Chairman National Sports Commisssion, from the Spokesperson of the AFN, while a verbal appraisal came from the Delta State Government, who will not fail through Amaju Pinnick to enumerate all that Governor Uduaghan has done to keep her where she is today.

Yes it has become convenient to quickly identify with the exploits of Blessing Okagbare. It has become fashionable to share in the limelight of a young lady who today threads the glory path of the Mary Onyali’s before her.

Wanted someone to also help us craft releases, I mean those of us who fast and pray daily for her success, we the veritable supporters of the lady who has written our names in silver in the comity of track and field nations.

September 16 is the day that FIFFA, through CAF will hold the final draw to determine the pairings for the final ten countries that will go into a play off for eventual qualification to Brazil.

Forgive my arrogance in not taking the match against Malawi into consideration as I look forward to that very expectant event that will determine the weight of our duty going into Brazil. They call it “… the luck of the draw” as you suddenly confront an opponent believed easy and ready for demolition.

South Africa is such an opponent one that Nigeria has never struggled to beat. Beat them again we did, to enhance our FIFA Ranking that will be published September 12. That ranking will help put Nigeria in the favoured pot of those countries that will not only play the second leg match at home but will also be pitched against believed weaker opponents.

The FIFA   Ranking will not cease to amaze a lot. It is that “scientific” eexperiment that puts Cape Verde as the 6th best football playing country in Africa while Egypt lies in the 11th position and Zambia in the tenth, among others.

In other words, if the September Rankings confirm the Auguust placement, then Nigeria is in for war against among others, B.Faso, Cameroun, Tunisia, Zambia, Egypt, South Africa, Ethiopia and Congo.

Before then however, we are in for titanic battles in Group E between Congo and Burkina Faso( only a point separates them). Ethiopia and South Africa are locked in Group A, Ghana and Zambia in Group D and Cameroun and Libya in GroupI.Senegal has nine points in Group J while Uganda has eight.

It is that tough. Just imagine, Nigeria’s Green Eagles drawn against the Indomitable Lions of Cameroun. That,   will be the match!

See you next week.


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