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A Word For The Eagles – By Arnold A. Alalibo

Eagles celebrate-argentina-goal

By Arnold A. Alalibo | NNP | July 31, 2014 – Just before the World Cup began, most Nigerians, including my humble self, never believed that the national team, the Super Eagles, would advance beyond the group stage. The team was, however, ousted in the second round of 16. Their ouster from the tournament notwithstanding, the team, in my considered opinion, performed fairly. What they lacked, however, was technical sophistication.
At this time when football has developed technically, what the national team requires goes beyond mere artistic or acrobatic performance. That alone does not win matches anymore. Good match reading, sound formation and tactical discipline, among others, is indispensable components of victory. Our loss to France ended our dream of moving to the quarter final stage for the first time in the history of our participation in the tournament. In our previous outings, especially in the 1994 and 1998 editions of the game, we had reached the Round of 16 and crashed out. Cameroun, Ghana and Senegal remain the only African countries that had reached the quarter final stage.
For the first time in 10 years, Nigeria finished second with four points in the race to the Round of 16 behind Argentina, while Bosnia and Iran crashed out. Despite the poor show in their opening encounter with Iran, this was a confirmation that the team got better with each encounter in the course of the tournament. Therefore regardless of our ouster in the second stage, the momentum must be sustained particularly with the qualifying matches for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations events commencing in September. Besides, this is also the time to start the planning for the 2018 World Cup holding in Russia.
For those reasons, we must put behind us our experience in the just-concluded World Cup and begin in earnest preparations for defending the African Cup of Nations which we won in South Africa in 2013. Though the 2014 World Cup has come and gone, we must not forget to take home some crucial lessons from our own performance in the competition. One thing we must understand is that the World Cup tournament is for men not for boys. That is why it calls for diligence, planning, commitment, sacrifice and a resolve to win. I don’t believe that it is a game of chance or luck.
I think strongly that we will do better in the 2018 edition of the World Cup if we begin our preparations early. Waiting for last-minute haphazard preparations which we are known for have always been our albatross. We must discard this mentality in the light of present realities. Also, there is need for other African representatives in the World Cup competition to improve on their performances. The continent must justify the five slots FIFA has given to it to avoid a reduction of the slots for non-performance. An improved performance is, of course, necessary if FIFA must accede to our request for additional slots.
Apart from Nigeria, Algeria and perhaps Ghana that gave a good account of themselves somehow, the other two countries were unimpressive with their performances as demonstrated by the quality of their outings. Cameroun was particularly worse as their encounters were characterized by agitations and gross indiscipline. I think such opportunity of featuring at the World Cup should never be wasted. On the whole, one can say Africa’s outing was abysmal.
Let me come back to the Super Eagles. I think they need a team leader in the mould of their present coach, Stephen Keshi and Christian Chukwu, when both men were captains in their playing days. Such leader will serve as a rallying hub for other members of the team. I dare say that the present squad does not have such a motivating character.
The Nigerian Football Federation, NFF, must put its house in order, especially before the commencement of important tournaments like the World Cup. The issue of allowances for players and their handlers is becoming a distractive and recurring decimal any time the team engages in major football competitions. This needs not to be so. It portrays Nigeria in very bad light and affects the psyche and morale of the team. In all, I laud the Super Eagles for their fair performance and wish them success in subsequent soccer endeavours.


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Posted by on Jul 31 2014. Filed under Arnold Alalibo, Articles, Columnists, NNP Columnists, Soccer, Sports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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