MILLIONS of Nigerian football fans had looked up to the Super Eagles to lift the spirits of the nation by qualifying for the World Cup coming up in Qatar later this year.
Unfortunately, our soccer ambassadors compounded our woes arising from our socio-economic and security misgovernance.
Their 1-1 draw at the Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja on Tuesday, March 29, 2022 against the Black Stars of Ghana ensured that Nigeria will not be at the World Cup.
What infuriated the frustrated fans the most was the lacklustre attitude of the players who approached the task as if nothing was at stake. The “malaria-inducing” negative football that was the hallmark of the Gernot Rohr years was back in full spate.
The Ghanaians, on the other hand, knew their assignment. They focused on their mission, refusing to be distracted. They wanted it more, and successfully earned the coveted qualification prize at the backyard of their better-fancied Super Eagles opponents. Nigerians had every reason to entertain high hopes of qualifying for the Mundial. Coach Austin Eguavoen had impressed everyone during the preliminary stages of the African Cup of Nations which took place in Cameroon in January 2022.
Under him, the Eagles’ quality of footballing not only improved, we won all three group stage matches.
There the promise ended. Eguavoen’s squad failed to show up when it mattered most. We not only crashed out in the Second Round with a 0-1 loss to Tunisia, we also failed to pick the World Cup ticket against Ghana.
The Super Eagles were only able to manage a penalty goal in three crucial matches!
It goes without saying that Eguavoen has no place in the future Eagles given the fact that he has shown lack of technical capacity. Hence, it is not surprising that he has stepped down as coach and Technical Director of the team. We need a new head gaffer to reset our senior National Team going forward. It is also a welcome development that Alloy Agu, the Eagles’ Goalkeeper Trainer, and other members of the technical crew have been disengaged. His tenure is a legacy in poor goalkeeping.
We must go back to sourcing some of the Eagles from local league players who still have the hunger to make the needed sacrifice on the pitch to fulfill their ambitions. These all-foreign-based squads are full of players who see national call-ups as mere distractions to their professions.
We understand the deep hurt that our failure to qualify for Qatar 2022 inflicted on our football lovers, but nothing justifies the orgy of vandalism that ensued last Tuesday. We condemn the poor security and crowd control plan. It is all part of the system failure we see everywhere.
The Nigerian Football Federation, NFF, under Amaju Pinnick, has lost focus and he should take responsibility for Super Eagles flop.
Sports Minister Sunday Dare should also share in the blame for our failures with regards to the AFCON 2022, Qatar qualification and the Olympic Games.