By ADEOLA ADEROUNMU, Since 2006

Archive for the ‘World Cup’ Category

Nigeria And The 2018 World Cup

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Nigeria And The 2018 World Cup

By Adeola Aderounmu

I have just watched the first match of the 2018 world cup, Russia 2018 with the host country white-washing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with 5-0. Some people were already questioning the qualification/eligibility of Saudi Arabia based on their poor performance.

It was a victory that the Russians needed to stamp their authority as the host of the competition. Afterall Korea went all the way to the semifinal when she hosted the competition albeit getting all the help in the world from the FIFA referees along the way.

Anyway l want to spend the little time l have now on the Super Eagles of Nigeria, their NIKE shirt maker and the friendlies they lost.

ONCE again Nigeria is one of the hopes of the continent of Africa.  The good news is that Nigeria lost her 2 friendly matches in a run up to the world cup. A 1-2 lose to England was the first wake up call. It was good news because Nigerians now know that their hopes should not be beyond the abilities or the capabilities of the boys representing them at Russia 2018. If Nigeria crashes out in the group stages, there will be no serious hypertension.

In fact l wished the health authorities in Nigeria can sound a note of warning about the health implications of getting too emotional about this worldcup. I learnt my lessons far back in USA 1994 during my last year at the University of Lagos.

We were African champions and we were the 4th best team in the world. That team had the potentials to be the world champion. All is history now.

When the Super Eagles match out in this tournament, they will face Croatia, a very technical team, Iceland, a team that sent England home at Euro 2016 and Argentina, a familiar foe.

The Super Eagles are parading the youngest team at the tournament but the players are full of experience. Mikel Obi and Victor Moses will team up with Onazi and Iwobi to lead the team to glory (if they choose glory).

The boys should not be carried away by the colours or admiration of their jerseys. NIKE is smiling to the bank despite doing a very useless job on the provision of the national wears. NIKE is asking me for a feedback on the way my questions have been answered concerning the messy work they did with the national team jersey and its availability globally. This will be my feedback, a blog entry.

If you go to leading football stores/ websites around the world, you can buy the national team jerseys of the world best teams and national teams. But you cannot buy the original of that of Nigeria at the retail price before and after June 1 2018. In my opinion, this is a very useless development. If the world loves the super eagles jersey, it was the responsibility of NIKE to see to it that the world gets it.

But no, they can produce any amount they like and they can decide not to produce more when the stock that was released on June 1 ran out globally after 20 minutes.

What does NIKE care about the feelings of Nigeria? Absolutely nothing!

NIKE has no respect for Nigerians and the supporters of Nigeria football if that means that whe whole world support Nigeria.

Today l can still buy the national team jerseys of leading football clubs in the world, but not that of Nigeria that just even drop her position in FIFA’s ranking.

I know NIKE tried to explain it but it is not acceptable. The reasons fell flat.

You don’t prepare for rain by waiting for the rain to start. I learnt that before l was 8 years old.

Money they made, yes. They also opened the market for fake products from China to Ibadan. Good for those in that line of business. But the responsibility of making the products available wherever and whenever was damn bad.  I will leave it like that though l have more to say about it.

For the games, Nigeria must watch out for the ICELANDERS. They are formidable and they will punish any team for the slightest mistake. That is their greatest strength. They lay low and allow you to make a mistake and that is it. Their second strength is in set-pieces. They don’t like to waste them.

So Nigeria cannot go to sleep for one minute playing a wise team like Iceland.

For Croatia and Argentina, Nigerians just need to hold up their heads and remember that they play week-in and week-out at the same levels with these players in different leagues in Europé. They are the same people and should not be given the kind of respect that will make the Nigerian team look inferior. Just do it! Isn’t that what NIKE wants whether we the supporters get the jersey or not?

I am going to sit back and watch as many matches as l can. I hope the referees don’t make me switch off my tv with some useless decisions. These happened in many games before and FIFA need to stop influencing results. The corruption in FIFA must not be brought to the field of play or to gambling companies.

Some of us just want to relax and see the beautiful game. A part of us is attached to our country’s team and the other part just want to be part of the greatest sport event on planet earth.

 

aderounmu@gmail.com

 

 

Nigeria Going To World Cup in Russia (2018)

By Adeola Aderounmu

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On Saturday 7th of October 2017 Nigeria became the first African country to secure her place at the Football World Cup coming up in the summer of 2018 in Russia. To ensure her place at the tournament the Super Eagles of Nigeria defeated the National Team of Zambia in Uyo with 1 goal to nothing.

Congratulations to the Super Eagles.

I wish you well in Russia and l hope you have a good preparation. Don’t go to Russia as just one of the teams, go as champions and even try to win it.

Best wishes

aderounmu@gmail.com

NIGERIA’S FINAL 23 FOR BRAZIL 2014

List By Stephen Keshi

NIGERIA’S FINAL 23 FOR BRAZIL 2014

GOALKEEPERS: Vincent Enyeama, Austin Ejide, Chigozie Agbim

DEFENDERS: Joseph Yobo, Elderson Echiejile, Juwon Oshaniwa, Godfrey Oboabona, Azubuike Egwuekwe, Kenneth Omeruo, Efe Ambrose, Kunle Odunlami

MIDFIELDERS: John Mikel Obi, Ogenyi Onazi, Ramon Azeez, Michael Uchebo, Reuben Gabriel

FORWARDS: Osaze Odemwingie, Ahmed Musa, Shola Ameobi, Emmanuel Emenike, Babatunde Michael, Victor Moses, Uche Nwofor

Brazil 2014: This Time For Africa?

By Adeola Aderounmu

World Cup Africa

Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Algeria, Cameroon and Ghana will fly Africa’s flags at the world cup which starts on the 12th of June in Brazil.

Egypt went to the world cup in Italy in 1934. That was the first time an African country featured at the championship which started in 1930 in Uruguay. Since then 13 countries in total from Africa have participated at various editions of the mundial. The other 12 countries are Morocco, Zaire, Tunisia, Algeria, Cameroon, Nigeria, South Africa, Senegal, Angola, Ivory Coast, Ghana and Togo.

When Africa’s representatives at the world cup for 2014 arrive in Brazil this summer they will be chasing an unfulfilled dream-that an African country is ripe enough to win the world cup.

To make this dream come true, Cameroon will have to cross the hurdles in Group A where they will do battle with the host Brazil, Croatia and Mexico.

Cameroonians are playing in their 7th world cup. This is an African record. But what has Cameroon got to show for previous appearances? The best exploits came in Italy in 1990 as the career of Roger Milla was winding up. Cameroon was beaten in the quarter finals by England. After Italian 90, Cameroon quickly transformed and became “not indomitable”. For an African country to win the world cup, consistency must be shown.

Ivory Coast is a country also in need of consistency and even more, delivery. This country must emerge from Group C that include Colombia, Greece and Japan.

The men representing Ivory Coast and led by Didier Drogba are the popular golden generation that has won nothing to show for the name tag-“golden”.

This is the third straight world cup for the so called golden generation. They failed to emerge from the groups in 2006 and 2010. Any country that wants to win the world cup must be able to emerge first from the group. It will not matter if the group is mildly classified or if it is termed the group of death.

One country that shaped the organisation of FIFA’s world cup after the 1982 edition was Algeria. In 1982 Germany and Austria “sold” their last game “to each other” so that Algeria could be eliminated. You need to find and read that story if you love the history and football. In 1982, the Germans and the Austrians brought huge shame to football.

Football scandals or match fixers are not restricted to Asia or any particular geographical part of the world. Rather it is something that has been a part of football at every level and in almost every country for as long as the game has been in existence. The roles of FIFA officials in recent reports seriously brought the game into disrepute, again. Yet, this is a game people love no matter the problems related to scandal or “arranged outcomes”.

After the 1982 games, FIFA decided that the last games in each group will be played simultaneously. Algeria will try to emerge this time from a group including Belgium, Russia and South Korea. If they find the form again like they did in 1982, they have a chance of making Africa’s dream come true.

To put Africa’s name on the map as a world cup winning continent can also become a dream come true through the hands of the Ghanaians. Ghana is also making a third straight appearance.

In 2010 on the African continent Ghana reached the quarter final stage where they fell to Uruguay. That match will not be forgotten easily in the stories of FIFA senior world cup.

Luis Suarez had to become a “goalkeeper” at some stage to save the ball from going into the net. It was a sad day for Africa as Ghana failed to convert the extra time spot kick that would have sent them to the semi-final stage. Our dear brothers lost on penalties.

This year in Brazil, Ghana must scale Germany (the match-fixers of 1982), Portugal and the United States in order to prove that African countries can show consistency and make serious claims to world cup glory at the senior level.

African champions Nigeria will also be making another attempt to show the world that an African country is indeed prepared to win the world cup. Nigeria must emerge first from a group that includes familiar foe-Argentina, Bosnia-Hercegovina and Iran.

This is the second time Nigeria is going to the world cup on the back of a Nation’s Cup victory. The first time was in 1994 when Keshi was the captain of the team and Clemence Westerhof, the coach.

In 1994, inexperience was the bane of the Super Eagles as they were bundled out in the second round by the Italians. In 1998, Nigeria was again bundled out in the second round by Denmark.

In 2002, Nigeria had a disgraceful participation in Korea/Japan. In 2006, Nigeria was missing at the German edition. Back in South Africa in 2010, Nigeria failed again to emerge from the groups.

Through the years, bad planning, maladministration and useless preparations have ensured that Nigeria just added to the numbers of the countries going to the world cup.

To date, especially since the Algerian exploits of 1982 and the Cameroonian efforts of 1990, the performances of African countries since 1934 (though sporadically filled with some other brilliant moments) have not matched the expectations of the people of Africa.

Brazilian legend Pele predicted that an African country will win the world cup at the turn of the last century. It did not happen. Even at the time that the profiles of African players rose both on the continent and abroad, it has been impossible for Africa to deliver on high promises.

In South Africa when Ghana crumbled, Africa returned to square one of the struggle to win the world cup.

The organisation of football on the African continent needs a range of face-lifting processes. In North Africa, it appears that the organisation has always been solid. There were a lot of set backs in some North African countries as a result of the Arab spring. But some countries (like Algeria) are reported to be making big strides even attracting players from France to the Algerian league. One hopes that Egypt will rise again.

If Algeria makes progress in Brazil or if her football becomes a reference point irrespective of how they end this tournament, fingers will point at the growth or promises shown at the domestic league.

Among the other African countries representing Africa at the forth coming mundial, Nigeria will be of concern to Nigerians, definitely. Since the first appearance of the country at the world stage in 1994, it has been a permanent impossibility to uplift the game on Nigerian soils.

Nigeria as country or Nigeria comprising of several regions has a population that could turn anything profitable into a goldmine. Sadly like many other things that Nigerians have failed at, including governance itself, football in Nigeria has not been revived since its collapse I would say in the mid 1980s. I may be wrong with the actual date but I remembered how it was fun to watch Leventis United, and Abiola Babes when I was in early secondary school.

Today the English Premier League, the European Champions league and other foreign leagues are very famous in Nigeria with huge followership. The gains that Nigeria should be making in marketing of her own football is totally diminished or drowned.

This essay is not about recounting the problems with Nigerian football or Nigeria as a failed country. It is not about Nigeria as a dead giant of Africa. If one does not draw the lines, the discussion will move from football to every aspect of Nigerian life. It’s very hard to separate the lost glories of Nigeria in almost every aspect of human endeavours.

For one month between June and July 2014, Nigerians will expect the boys that will be selected by coach Keshi to deliver. Many of these boys are plying their trades abroad. Invariably they have been polished by other systems. The exposure is brilliant but when the days and years are running out, many of these boys cannot return home to wrap up their careers like the Brazilians or the Argentines do.

They do not have to finish their careers on the Nigerian soil but the argument is that the level of football in Nigeria in terms of planning, organisation, administration, execution and overall sustenance is not yet in the right hands. Nigerians know these things but for them everything is politics.

As long as there are functional leagues abroad (even in neighbouring African countries like Benin and Togo) where Nigeria’s talents can be nurtured or even de-processed by making them change their roles on the pitch, it is fine with those in the glass house and their pickers in Abuja.

The biggest indicator of the gigantic problems facing Nigeria’s football is the failure of Nigeria since 1985 to transform the glory of the young players (Eaglets especially) into something that the world can emulate at the Super Eagles level.

For an African country to win the world cup will not depend of luck or unexpected favours from some quarters. It will depend a lot on management of the game on the continent. That’s where CAF comes in. This body needs revamping and dynamism. It needs a new life.

The progress of African football will also depend on national organisations like NFF of Nigeria. What are they doing to promote the game in all spheres (on the pitch and off it)? Are there serious plans to encourage more youth, more women and anybody interested in the game to pursue their careers knowing that they have a foundation to rely upon?

Africans must also overcome the mental incapacitation that FIFA rankings can infuse on the mind. The best place to play football is on the pitch. Moments like this-in Brazil provide the opportunity to send the FIFA ratings to the dustbin. Football is dynamic and it moves from one game plan to the next.

The future of African football, its organisation and management on the African soil will play significant roles and the world will see these upliftments when an African country eventually wins the world cup. It’s been a long wait but it must happen in the future. July 2014 is part of the future.

aderounmu@gmail.com

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