SEIZE THIS MOMENT, NFF - oguncitynews


Saturday 24 February 2024



........Biodun Alabi 

2013, eleven years ago, was the last time the Super Eagles threw Nigerian streets into wild ecstacy for winning that year's AFCON in South Africa. 

Nigerians, despite their crazy following of European football, truly love the Super Eagles ...they love the team more, in an uncanny way, when it keeps winning and playing well, and entertaining them.

Football entertains Nigerians, apart from unifying them and serving as their opium in moments of economic and leadership despair. 

Between 2013 and 2024, 2014 and 2018 were the only years the Super Eagles made Nigerians truly proud of them; and that was at those years' world cup finals in Brazil and in Russia. 

Within these years, the team failed to qualify for two AFCON and the 2022 Qatar world cup, played some of its all-time worst matches, lost at home to some inconceivable opponents on some occasions, and generally lost its popularity and respect among its fans world over. Its brand fell in football market.


But just a few days ago, all of that were eclipsed by its showing at the 2023 AFCON in Cote D'Ivoire, where, against wide expectations, it got to the final of the competition, but lost narrowly to the hosts.

The Super Eagles didn't play to its true capacity and potentials in Cote D'Ivoire, but was decent enough to regain lost respect and whet the appetite of its followers ahead of the next AFCON and the 2026 world cup.

The danger in this is that this is just a period of two years!  Damn too close.

Two years of losing respect and popularity again, and of a possible slip into another vista of ignominy. 

The matter of the coach of the team is not done and dusted after the expiration of the contract of Jose Peseiro. The issue is still- should he go or get another contract?. Yet, the days to the next AFCON and world cup qualifiers are fast running near!

I have been of the opinion that Jose Peseiro should be handed a new contract, but I've read and listened to opposing views, and I think they are logical too. Some people's fear in NFF allowing Peseiro continue with the job is technical rather than my optimistic "pragmatic " view.

The Eagles played an uncharacteristic defensive football with a tinge of occasional counter breaks in Cote D'Ivoire. paid off up until the final where, the weakness of that strategy was exposed and the dynamism required of the players and the coach, on such a big occasion, didn't come to bear.

But I see in this a great opportunity of metamorphosis for this team.

Whether the NFF keeps Peseiro or not, here is a generation of Super Eagles that holds big promises and hope in the next four years. 

It's a young team with a new leader and captain in William Troost-Ekong and a new goalkeeper in Stanley Nwabali, who, in just his first AFCON, is already being talked about in a legendary manner.

The bonding of the players, on and off the field at the 2023 AFCON, is that precious stone the NFF must jealousy guard and guide in the next two years.  I see this team, in the qualifiers, come together in just three days, play and win well, unlike before.  

Yesterday, Alex Iwobi and Calvin Bassey, in the colours of Fulham, buried Manchester United with their goals. That's the biggest gain of 2023 AFCON. Any player that didn't attend 2023 AFCON will have to be exceptional to get a starting line up in the team or proffer supreme solution to its offensive midfield limitations and goalscoring Albatross that were vivid in Cote D'Ivoire. 

Peseiro should by now know these were the blots in his 2023 AFCON scorecard; and for the coming coach( if Peseiro is not wanted anymore), these are the burdens to carry.

It's up to NFF, time is golden.

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