Super Eagles Are Not The Problem

Adeola Aderounmu

Many Nigerians like to reap from where they have not sown. Most often we forget the genesis of our national dilemma. The performance of the Super Eagles in South Africa is neither a shock nor a disappointment to a few of us.

The road to South Africa was rough and untidy. Many of us thought that Tunisia will qualify but on the last day of the qualifiers, Nigeria pulled the last string against Kenya while Mozambique defeated Tunisia.

The manner of our qualification reminded us of the mismanagement and lack of expertise in the Nigerian Football Federation. The last time we developed soccer from the grassroots’ level was probably when Westerhof was in charge.

We blame the Super Eagles because, quite correctly, they are professionals and they are paid to do the job of playing good football. Moreso, they are expected to play with their hearts like the North Koreans for example.

We must ask ourselves many questions.

What are the roles of the Ministry of Youth and Sports when it comes to development of Nigerian football?

What are the roles of the Nigerian Football Federation in discovering talented and gifted footballers especially after we have produced the likes of Okocha, Keshi, Oliseh, Finidi, Amokachi, Giant Uche, Siasia, Amuneka and Yekini among many other global names?

In general what are the national policy regarding the development of sports in Nigeria?

These are some of the questions; there are hundreds of other questions begging for answers.

We live at a time when we expect miraculous rewards from something we didn’t plan for. In football this will never happen because many nations take sports and football especially too seriously that those who failed to plan invariably planned to fail.

The year 1996 was an exceptional year for Nigerian football. We won the Olympics gold medal despite the fact that the preparation was, as usual, messy. We cannot always depend on luck or fire-brigade approach to accomplish success.

We should never crucify the super eagles. As a nation we have refused to gather all our positive energy towards effecting appropriate changes in the management of our national affairs.

The composition of the Super Eagles today, as I see it, is definitely not the best selection of Nigerian footballers. But if I am wrong, then Nigerian football is almost dead. It means either we have no new talents or we have failed to discover them.

In Nigeria today, the focus of several football fans is either on the English Premiership or La Liga. Some others fancy Serie A while others are focused on Euro Sports-2 for the Bundesliga. What is the Nigerian Football Federation doing regarding the promotion of the game in Nigeria?

Every weekend, you see representatives of NFF putting on jerseys to show their love and support for Arsenal, Man U and Chelsea. Even state governors and commissioners are not left out. We celebrate English Soccer and Nigerians have become die-hard followers of the game as played in Europe.

As this national madness progresses, Nigerian football continue to suffer both in the divisive boardrooms and on the patchy pitches. Yet we expect a miracle from South Africa in 2010. We forgot that Nigerian football reached its peak in 1994 and that we have gone to sleep ever since.

What we should have been doing since 1994 was to create a breeding ground for the replacements of all the Superstars mentioned above. We didn’t. We allowed our politicians to run our football. We don’t demonstrate against bad decisions. We don’t react to negative policies. We don’t identify with global growth of sports. We leave many things undone because in Nigeria we allow many abnormalities and yet expect positive outcomes.

It is the same mentality in other facets of our lives. We call it the Nigerian factor. We just allow things to pass without making positive amendments or appropriate corrections. We leave the holistic approach and chase subsets that cannot stand independently. Our sports or football in this case is the reflection of our collective failures as a nation. What is the difference between the performance of the Super Eagles and the fact that the standard of education of Nigeria has dropped consistently over the decades?

To get things right in our football, we have to get it right in the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development. To get it right in the Super Eagles, we really have to get it right in the NFF. To get it right in the NFF, we really have to ensure that those who are on board are seasoned sports professionals and sports administrators. Until then, the decline in the standard of our football will continue to take a nose dive.

Regarding the Super Eagles, there are a lot of issues at stake. What are the criteria used for getting players into the national team? I have spoken to at least 2 ex-internationals and their responses are very heartbreaking. In some circumstances Nigerian politicians, dictators and family members have influenced the selection of players into the national team. There are stories (from the past) of bribing of coaches to get players selected into the team.

What about the question of age? We blame the Eagles for being slow, tired and uninspired. But how did they make the team in the first place? Did they invite themselves to the team? We must begin to look closely at the ages of our players and stop inviting them to the senior national team when we realise that they cannot run or keep up with the pace at that level. While their active sojourn in national team last, we should respect them while expecting the best from them.

The coach, Nigerian or foreign, must be able to ascertain the level of the fitness of his team all the time. An unfit or uncommitted player has no business in the team because that is minus one already. It is also pertinent that the NFF does not interfere with the coach’s process of invitation and selection of players for the national team.

Obviously I cannot explain all that I have on my mind. For example what plans do we have for the Super Eagles player when they play hard and injure themselves while playing for Nigeria? What does the insurance policy say? Nigerian sports journalists owe us this obligation of explaining more and becoming more objective in their analyses of sports. If we want progress in our sports/ football, the brown-envelope syndrome must be abolished in the reporting of sports. That syndrome has destroyed enough of the Nigerian life.

Some Nigerians are expecting a miracle on Tuesday the 22nd of June while others have given up. Football is not a one day affair; our focus should be on the long-term implications of our outings in the Nations Cup played in Angola and the current World Cup in South Africa. If we have good memories we shouldn’t have forgotten Ghana 2008 so easily. We could have planned for today. But we didn’t.

With careful analyses of how we got to this point of disgrace in our football, we might be able to retrace our steps probably to Tunisia ’94 and make amends so that we can prepare better for the future.

Invariably, as Nigeria approaches 50th year as a nation, there are several things we need to put right. The status quo is a disaster for Africa and an embarrassment to the black race. We need a change we can believe in.

Nigeria’s Rulers Relocate to South Africa.

By Adeola

Nigeria never ceases to sturn the world in many ways.

Mr. Goodluck Jonathan is in South Africa. He is there with 6 governors and some aides. President Jonathan was accompanied by the Governors of Ogun, Kwara, Borno, Rivers, Edo and Delta; the Ministers of Information, Foreign Affairs, Women Affairs and Sports, as well as Presidential aides.

There are reports that more than 60 Nigerian Senators are also in South Africa.

This country is a nation of clowns.

What are all these morons doing in South Africa when Nigeria is in dire need of sound leadership and serious revamping?

South Africa is hosting the Football World Cup because they prepared their nation for it. What are we preparing our country, Nigeria, for?

From the South, to the North, from the East to the West, there are issues begging for solutions and attentions and more than half of the rulers and conquerors of Nigeria are on jamboree to something that doesn’t concern them.

These wicked people remain selfish and evil. What are they doing in South Africa? Is Jonathan going to strike in the next game? Are the state governors going to play the third match against South Korea? What the h*** are they stupidly doing in SA?

Indiscipline of the highest order! You will never find in the whole world or in the history of mankind a group of people who are so thoughtless and aimless!

Nigeria is begging for attention and a way forward in every aspect of our lives including sports and football.

I don’t think these people gallivanting around know the seriousness of the nature of our national problems. Not to think of the millions of dollars that is now wasted on these unnecessary trips. The cost of these trips will be enough to change millions of lives in Nigeria. It will be enough to construct some roads and build modern schools in some communities.

Nigerian rulers are selfish, wicked and heartless and someone somewhere should order them to return to Nigeria with immediate effect. They should not draw up the money from these trips from national treasury.

But who will ensure or enforce these disciplinary measures when Jonathan himself chose this time to travel to SA? Nigeria, oh my beloved country..! what a wasting nation!

Nigeria, where is your glory?


Adeola Aderounmu

Lars Lagerbäck is not going to the World Cup to perform experiments. Conventional wisdom shows that that may be a fatal approach. The Nigerian coach will be going to South Africa in June with the players he inherited from Shuaibu Amodu.

What is then the difference between having coach Amodu in South Africa and Lars Lagerbäck who failed to qualify Sweden for the same competition? The outcome of the performances of the Nigerian team will be known in June 2010.

I cannot give a prediction of the outcome in South Africa but I know that the strategy of Mr. Lagerbäck will be different. Nigeria may end up playing a more defensive-style football and if this happens people are really going to be upset with the coach especially if the Super Eagles are disgraced out of the tournament.

Every Nigerian is a football analyst in his/ her own rights. If Lagerbäck’s strategies fail they will tell him what he doesn’t know about our football. They will let him know in clear terms that next to God, the next thing on the minds of Nigerians is football. To hell with politics and the looting politicians. Give us good football and take our sorrows away.

It doesn’t matter that Nigeria qualified for the world cup by a slim chance. The expectations are the same as if we qualified in a big way. Hence it is clear from the team squad that Mr. Lagerbäck himself is not willing to take chances. But the big question is “will he and his boys deliver when the heat is on in South Africa?”

Football coaches have one of the most fragile jobs in the world. Lagerbäck may not realise this because it took so long for him to get booted in Sweden despite several imperfections. Nigeria’s imperfections have produced coach after coach and the recycling of Amodu is a clear piece of evidence. He’s been there 3 times in the last 12 years !

If Lagerbäck fails in South Africa-not getting to the second round or quarter finals-there will be extreme pressure on his employers to fire him. That sort of failure will seal the automatic end to the international careers of the present crop of Super Eagles, most of whom are already past their primes anyway. If Lagerbäck survives he may eventually get the chance to try and do something new for Nigerian football. In that case, say 3 years from now, it would have become evident what he can do with the bunch of talents that Nigeria boast of. Some of us will get the chance to compare his records in Sweden with the situation in Nigeria if he survives 3 years as the coach of football-crazy Nigeria.

Just before the world cup, Nigeria will play 1 or 2 friendly matches. That is if the Football Authority is not fooling around like they did last month. These matches will not be adequate preparations for a country that is serious in going far in the tournament. If Nigerian plays the friendly matches, they will provide rare opportunities for Lagerbäck to see his squad first hand.

Performances in the friendly matches for those who get to wear the national colours and the few days in training will culminate in final selection of players for the world cup.

My expectations are not so high. Still the Nigerian in me wants Nigeria to do well in this world cup. Nigerians need something to cheer about, something to soothe us despite our political and social worries. Football is our religion and history has it that during those moments when Nigeria could have been torn apart, we were kept together by the common glories that football brought to our troubled nation.

I wish Mr. Lagerbäck and the Super Eagles all the best that the god of soccer can give them. With such a dull preparation, they will need all the luck in the world if they want to survive any game at all in the tournament. Good luck may even come from the seat of power. In Nigeria and for Nigerians, anything can happen!

Goalkeepers: Vincent Enyeama (Hapoel Tel Aviv, Israel), Dele Aiyenugba (Bnei Yehuda, Israel), Austin Ejide (Hapoel Petah Tikva, Israel), Bassey Akpan (Bayelsa United, Nigeria)

Defenders: Taye Taiwo (Marseille, France), Elderson Echiejile (Rennes, France), Chidi Odiah (CSKA Moscow, Russia), Onyekachi Apam (OG Nice, France), Joseph Yobo (Everton, England), Daniel Shittu (Bolton Wanderers, England), Ayodele Adeleye (Sparta Rotterdam, Netherlands), Rabiu Afolabi (SV Salzburg, Austria), Terna Suswan (Lobi Stars, Nigeria)

Midfielders: Chinedu Ogbuke Obasi (TSG Hoffenheim, Germany), John Utaka (Portsmouth, England), Brown Ideye (FC Sochaux, France), Peter Utaka (Odense Boldklub, Denmark), , Kalu Uche (Almeria, Spain), Dickson Etuhu (Fulham, England), John Mikel Obi (Chelsea, England), Sani Kaita (Alaniya, Russia), Haruna Lukman (AS Monaco, France), Yusuf Ayila (Dynamo Kiev, Ukraine), Osaze Odemwingie (Lokomotiv Moscow, Russia)

Strikers: Yakubu Aiyegbeni (Everton, England), Victor Anichebe (Everton, England), Nwankwo Kanu (Portsmouth, England), Obafemi Martins (Wolfsburg, Germany), Ikechukwu Uche (Real Zaragoza, Spain), Victor Obinna Nsofor (Malaga, Spain)

FIFA says Footballers Can Play with their Hands

By Adeola Aderounmu

I’m hoping to see a new kind of foot-hand-ball in South Africa 2010.

FIFA says its okay for footballers to play with their hands as long as they don’t use their hands to prevent a goal. Fantastic!

This is what I gathered from the “Henry will not be punished” report. He was not seen by the referee and he didn’t use his hands to prevent a goal. According to FIFA, he only used his hands to aid scoring a goal. AND it’s ok to do that, they said.

So there you go-al footballers. Score with your hands but please don’t stop the ball from going into the nets with your hands.

Goodluck to the best foot-hand-ball team in South Africa. Let the celebration begin…!

Nigeria qualify for South Africa 2010

African Representatives at the 2010 World Cup

Ivory Coast, Ghana, Cameroun, Nigeria and Host South Africa are African representatives at the 2010 World Cup. Either Egypt or Algeria will join the list after the play off coming up in Sudan.

I didn’t believe that it was possible for the Tunisians to give up their lead to Nigeria in the final game when they lost to Mozambique in Maputo and Nigeria beat Kenya away from home. I mean, if Nigeria was the country on top before the last games I wouldn’t want her to slip. I still feel so sorry for the Tunisians: they blamed the heat in Maputo and the artificial surface.

Mozambique has a very strong home record plus the fact that they wanted to qualify for the Africa nations’ cup-Angola 2010. They took their destiny in their own hands because Nigeria could have lost to Kenya anyway. But Nigeria survived even to my own surprise beating Kenya 3 goals to 2. One of the goals seemed to me like it was scored from the offside position. Why the referee overlooked is best known to him or Fifa rules that lies somewhere. Yakubu Aiyegbeni appeared to be alone in the Kenya 6 yard box when he netted for Nigeria.

Congratulations to the Super Eagles of Nigeria. However they do know that they will need more than luck at the Mundial in 2010. It is up to the Nigerian Football Federation to put things in order even before the Nations Cup in Angola. Going to the world cup with a fire brigade approach, ineptitude and useless preparations will be catastrophic for Nigeria. Nigeria should start preparing for the World Cup in South Africa today.