Rebuilt Super Eagles continue the recent progression in World Football

June 18, 2013 11:58 am1 comment by:

Nigerian_side_ 5th July 1994, the Super Eagles of Nigeria about to face Italy in Round 16 of a World Cup at Foxboro Stadium. Amongst the Nigeria squad is an experienced defender Stephen Keshi alongside team mates singing the National Anthem. As usual the TV camera is moving from side to side to show the team’s line-up to the millions of Super Eagles fans watching and praying for a win for the Team.

In the early stages, it is looking promising for the team as they take the lead in 26th minutes with a goal from Emmanuel Amunike. The lead is kept until 89th minutes of normal time, when Roberto Baggio scores for Italy to equaliser and take the match to extra time. The same player scores in extra time to beat Nigeria. There is disappointment for the Super Eagles players, coaches and all the many fans that support Africa football. All parties have invested emotional, physical and financial to the incredible journey. For a few minutes before normal time, world football were about to witness another milestone in African football towards dominating world football competition.

Prior to this Round of 16 matches, the world could see glimpse of a strong team representing Africa proving they belong to this stage  and sponsors hoping to benefit from an African team  advancing to a World Cup Quarter final. As they bring incredible fans and atmosphere to the entertainment.

In the next 24 months, the team is still doing well with fans still hopeful of further success especially after relative success in the 1994 World Cup. This comes at the Olympics Atlanta 1996, Nigeria Football team win Gold even though it is an under 23 competition. A number of players that performed in 1994 World Cup were in this team. This was the signs that Africa Football was growing and making an impact in world football by winning the competition.

Then, few years passes by with no significant success and fans now looking around for a coach either local or outside Nigeria to bring tactical discipline and global success in a country full of talented individuals. This barren period includes qualification for major competitions but struggle to advance outside of the group stages. In between this period other African countries with fewer track records such as Senegal, Togo, South Africa, and Angola have a crack at representing the Continent but also struggle.

Nigeria Football Federation employ series of coaches coming with experience at managing National Teams in Cup Competitions to bring glory back. While this is going on a crucial member of the 1994 World Cup team that were few minutes from reaching the Quarter final , is carving a career as a promising Coach and more important achieving results.

He coached the Les Eperviers (Sparrow Hawks) of Togo Team to their first World Cup in 2004 and also the Les Aigles (Eagles) Mali Team in 2010 and although in each case dismissed or sacked from the Post. He was gaining experience and in my view sending signals to the Nigeria Football Federation about his coaching abilities.

Finally, he was appointed at last on 2nd November 2011 as Coach of the Super Eagles to the muted delight of fans of the country. First few games were not encouraging but then the slow but consistent display towards reclaiming the 2012 CAF Champions for 2 years at least. It was not exciting football in any shape or form but glimpses of belief and endeavour from the players. This was reminiscent of the excitement from fans of African Football during the best period from 1994 to 1996.

It was also evident with the team selections, the team had belief and then results follow as it was a balanced squad. This was more evident in non selection of Captain Joseph Yobo in the starting line in most of the matches.

This excitement is also merited considering the achievements of Ghana in the 2012 World Cup, almost close to a Semi Final of a World Cup. A glimpse of the chat rooms, internet posts and comments from football fans indicate hope of further success underneath mass congratulations.

However, if the posts could talk they will tell you that there is still uncertainty as to how long this will last. They have been the worthy champions of Africa before, who have gone to World Cup competitions and were strong competitor but missed out on success.

New generation of fans only have to look around the continent for what happened to Senegal, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Egypt, and Algeria and down south to Zambia, South Africa for hopes dashed after highs.

You might be reading this and thinking every country or era is different and which may be in this case. However, the signs are not looking that great with issues about match bonus and difficult with scoring more than 2 goals in matches.

In the qualification matches for the 2014 World Cup, the Super Eagles of Nigeria struggling to beat teams at home. It may be down to the competition getting stronger as mentioned in my previous article (The effect of Science in shaping Africa Football). But, you have to be dominating at home, if you are going to be successful away.

I am not saying it is time to throw away hopes of a different outcome and that is why fans should hold on beyond reason that Coach Stephen Keshi prolongs this recent success and extend it to the peak of domination. He has the Confederation Cup in Brazil, which started this Saturday 15th June 2013 to show the world a glimpse of the future.

Literally, a win against any of the good competitors will be greeted with relief that brings memories of good old times and future ones.

If you want my view, extending the success hinges on the ability of all involved with African football teams to be honest with each other. This will ensure a good playing environment and prevent the usual challenge that befalls all or most African football teams in World Cup Competitions.

Good Luck to the Super Eagles, hoping you represent Africa by competing strongly and fairly.

1 Comment

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