By Paul Bassey

It was my intention to share with you this week, an experience I had with one of the African Coaches who did NOT vote Mikel Obi. According to him “……….Forgive me, it was an individual award. It was like asking a coach, between Mikel and Yaya, who would you sign for your team in 2013? The answer definitely will not be Mikel. On your argument that he won the Nations Cup with Nigeria, Mikel for me was not the best Nigerian player. I rate Vincent Enyeama, Emmanuel Emenike and Victor Moses above him in terms of contribution to Nigeria’s success. Europa? Which one is that?

It is an interesting piece that will not be late next week. This week permit me to surrender the column to Dan Osakwe who wrote in from Lagos on Super Eagles: SWOT and Brazil 2014. Enjoy him.

That 2013 was a good year for Nigerian Football remains a truism. IN 2013, Nigeria won the African Nations Cup, the Under-17 World Cup and qualified for the World Cup in Brazil. The recent CAF/GLO award further epitomized Nigeria’s winning ways, where Nigeria and Nigerians carted away most of the prizes with the exception of African Footballer of the year going to Yaya Toure of Cote d’Ivoire.

Since Nigeria qualified for Brazil 2014, there have been suggestions and arguments as to how Nigeria should approach/prepare for the World Cup.  The suggestions have really been very robust. However, there is one approach that the Nigerian Football family has neglected over the years. It is called the SWOT approach.

A SWOT analysis is a common tool for business or economic analysis and marketing/development plan. The letter S stands for Strengths W stands for Weaknesses, O stands for Opportunities and T stands for Threats.

A careful application of SWOT analysis provides important bullet points and develops a compass for our football administrators and coaches to follow in the prosecution of the 2014 World Cup tournament.

Let’s consider the four letters of SWOT as it presently concerns the Super Eagles of Nigeria. The strengths of the Super Eagles are anchored on availability of good and experienced goal keepers; a good twin combination of attacking and defensive mid-fielders, team harmony and unity, an experienced head coach and a team of ex-internationals on the bench, an athletic team with speed as a selling point.  Other strengths associated with the Super Eagles are that both the Super Eagles ,Golden Eaglets and the NFF are on the winning ways. There is also going to be a stiff competition for shirts – a development that will spring up a more dynamic and vibrant team.

The ever vibrant Supporters Club is always ready to cheer the Super Eagles all the way.  President Goodluck Jonathan is so pleased with the Super Eagles and will lend his full support to the team.  A sizeable number of Nigerians are in Brazil and can be leveraged for good support for the team.

The team’s weaknesses can be outlined as weak defence and lack of creativity in the defence line; full backs have a perennial problem of not falling back quickly to defend when opponents attack, wasteful attackers that create problems for the mid-fielders, defenders and goal-keepers and the team’s inability to maximize the use of restarts like free-kicks, throw-ins and corner kicks.  Other weaknesses are lack of concentration within the first 5-minutes of the start and last 5-minutes of the first and second halves; inability to make tailored pull-outs from the wings and to deal with aerial balls on the part of the goal-keepers and defenders. In addition,  most of our players except Mikel Obi are not the ultimate players in their clubs.

What are the opportunities open to the Super Eagles as they prepare to challenge for the World Cup in Brazil?  Unlike Bosnia Herzegovina and possibly Iran, Nigeria is making its fifth appearance in the World Cup.  Apart from Argentina, Nigeria has experience going to the World Cup.  Again, Argentina is desperate to win the World Cup and might fail again like they did in 2002 with a galaxy of talented players.  Iranians might find it difficult to control their temperament if they concede early goals to the Super Eagles.

Bosnia Herzegovina players might find the football arena in Brazil too electrifying to handle.  Nigeria will also like to surpass the World Cup records of Cameroon, Senegal and Ghana.  More than ever before, the growing profile of the Super Eagles has opened a big window of opportunity for the NFF to partner with sponsors and advertisers by way of buying into the Super Eagles preparation and participation for Brazil 2014, because it will give them good visibility and mileage for their products and services.

Perhaps, of very significant to Super Eagles preparation for the World Cup in Brazil 2014 is the word ‘threat’.  Argentina has a pool of talented and focused players.  They have beaten Nigeria in previous World Cup meets and are ranked highly above Nigeria by FIFA.  Bosnia Herzegovina is an emerging European team.

From their geographical zone came Croatia and Davour Suker as debutants in 1998 World Cup in France where they took the whole world by storm.  Most of our players are not being optimally used presently in their various clubs.  The Eagles are poor when it comes to counter-attacks and shooting in front of goal.

Other threats are problem of match bonus and code of conduct for players, delay in prompt payment of salaries of coaches, delay in releasing funds for the prosecution of the World Cup programme, transparency in managing funds released for the World Cup projects and delay in organizing international friendly matches for the Super Eagles.

Perhaps the biggest threat will come from politicians and political office holders/seekers, who are already heating up the polity.  Politicians and Nigerians should realize that the Super Eagles can only succeed in Brazil 2014 where there is peace and harmony in Nigeria- Dan Osakwe.

See you next week.

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