Saturday, 1 March 2014
Nigeria Has Her Heart In Her Mouth
A grievous cause for worry in the soccer fraternity in Nigeria is what looks like a clear plan by major actors; those whose livelihood depend on the game; who ought to be professional in ensuring that fine details are worked out for the benefit of the game, as they abdicate their responsibilities as if minded towards afflicting more woes on Nigerian football.
Yes, more woes on Nigerian football. Or, how is the story to be told, should Austin Eguavoen and the Olympic team he is coaching fail to make the desired grade in Morocco. The team landed in Morocco in very adverse weather with no training kits to help them face the business for which over 160 million Nigerians anxiously await good results. Yet people are paid for this job. Or is it their job to make sure others fail?
In the month of October alone, Nigeria’s senior male and female teams crashed out of qualifiers for the African Nations’ Cup slated for 2012 and the Olympic Games billed for London in 2012 respectively. These results highlight what could be described as a systemic decline of the game of football in Nigeria traceable to numerous reasons. This ought to have been a wake up call for stakeholders but while the mourning continues, particularly amongst supporters and fans, those saddled with managing the game and acting it out on the pitch seem to be making a mockery of the fans that throng the stadia to cheer them to victory. This attitude also raises questions for those who invest their money and time in the game.
Could it be that these set Nigerians are conniving to hold others to ransom? Super Eagles’ players have a history of ill-discipline dating back to the days of the present coach, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi as a player. Football followers recall that it was disciplinary issues that forced Keshi to seek greener pastures abroad, starting from Cote D’Ivoire. He should count himself very lucky to have made a success of rebellion by progressing from Cote D’Ivoire to Belgium before taking retirement benefits in France.
Often, it is different strokes for different folks. Keshi’s predecessor on the Super Eagles coaching saddle, Samson Siasia wasn’t as lucky. His issues with Clemence Westerhorf made way for Daniel Amokachi into the national set-up. The lad took his fate in both hands. If only Siasia applied the lesson of history in his management of the team, probably, Nigeria would have been getting set for the 2012 African Nation’s Cup.
What is very worrisome is that despite Nigeria’s national teams crashing out of major international tournaments, the major actors seem unconcerned and bring no professional attitude to bear on the management of the Dream Team V, Nigeria’s only hope of having her flag up at the Olympics to be hosted by London.
Nigeria has her heart in her mouth on the qualification of the U23 Eagles for the London Olympics. The major players have been held back by their club sides in Europe because the tournament is not a Fifa sanctioned event. This fact will only add to the well chronicled failure of other national teams to reinforce the confidence of other countries when they confront Nigeria at the tournament. Had the Nigerian Football Federation been conscious to develop the local football league and academies, the bulk the Olympic team would have been drawn from the domestic football league and the academies. The football authorities’ deliberate neglect of the local league quickly comes to my mind as number one on the conspiracy theory.
Endless litigations and financial scandals involving Nigerian football suggest that gladiators have found the game a goldmine and are focused on milking the cow to death, at the detriment of the joy and buoy it brings to the citizens and the national economy. This could be the second page on the conspiracy theory. When will those saddled with national responsibilities start attending to them professionally?
How is it to be explained that the National football team is going for a tournament in far away Morocco without adequate provision for weather combating kits that would help the team face their task instead of having them stranded? Somebody owes Nigerians an explanation but the worry is that football buffs in Nigeria are never short of words to explain away failures, shockingly enriching themselves each time they do so!
Those managing football in Nigeria must come to terms with the fact that they are paddling a sinking boat and whether they stay afloat or sink depends on the success failure of the Eguavoen-tutored dream team. This is not the time they will divert the attention and ire of Nigerians by sacking the coach, as was the case of Siasia. If the dream team’s dream of hoisting Nigeria’s flag at the Olympics next year is frustrated by the ineptitude of the football damagers, whoever contributes to the frustration should be made to pay with his position.