Nigeria News

2018 World Cup: How Super Eagles Bungled Their Chance

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Nigeria News takes a look at how the Super Eagles bungled the opportunity to qualify for second round of the Russia 2018 world cup.

After the final whistle on Tuesday in the match between the Super Eagles of Nigeria and Argentina, my thoughts shifted to Chief Segun Odegbami, MON, former Nigeria senior national team captain, whose infectious optimism exorcised my longtime pessimistic dismissal of the Super Eagles and had me looking forward to the matches.

Before the start of the World Cup, I had written off the Eagles and even the Argentines. I thought Croatia and Iceland would go through and I promised not to watch a single minute of Super Eagles action in Russia.

I was happy I watched the match against the Croats, it was ‘disappointing’. The game emptied Lagos roads of traffic but brought pain in another way because of the dismal performance of the super eagles.

After that match, a thick cloud of cynicism wafted through the Nigerian atmosphere. We all inhaled it and exhaled venom – against the team, the coach, NFF, against anything that crossed our paths.

And then Odegbami rose to the task as a self-appointed Chief Motivator. If you have listened to him before and you don’t have goose pimples, you probably do not understand the language he speaks.

Through Whatsapp, he was sending inspiring discussions and pep talks with the players and asking for our support. That delivered me and dragged me to watch Eagles against Vikings. We won.

Slaying the Vikings was not something I was prepared to rationalize, it must be magical, supernatural. It must be because of the can-do breadth from Big Sheg. I started believing we could beat the Argies to the second qualifying spot.

Well, we didn’t, not because we were not fired up adequately but because a short-term project would always fall short against those who took the extra mile.

The World Cup has ended for us. Normally we would go on blame spree and concoction of all manners of conspiracy theories against Africans. And then wake up two years to another edition of World Cup.

Instead of taking this familiar route, what we need is to channel the optimism and vision of folks like Big Sheg to a long-term project and boom, the country of our dream will manifest.

As 2019 approaches, are we going to follow vision and optimism or remain shackled by inept politicians with stale ideas?

Yes, the referee in Tuesday’s match might have denied the Eagles some opportunities to run away with a victory or possible draw, the players themselves bungled all to give the weak Argentina team a leeway to the round of 16.

How will one describe Odion Ighalo’s inability to convert a sitter to a beautiful goal? The Video Assistant Referee may have helped other teams in the tournament, the technology denied the Eagles and allowed the rampaging Argentina to have their way.

How will one describe a team that has just two minutes to qualify for the second round but lost concentration and allowed a goal in the dying minutes? These are some of the factors coach Gernot Rohr has to consider if at all the Nigeria Football Federation wants to extend his contract.

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