Even at the peak of their
powers Nigeria’s Super Eagles would have had to be very much apprehensive of their chances of topping a World Cup ‘Group of Death’ that has Algeria, Cameroon and Zambia.
And now without a permanent coach, a directionless and broke Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) as well as public confidence in the team at an all-time low, the signs are even more disturbing that the Eagles will fail to qualify for Russia 2018.
Algeria has for some time now been ranked as Africa’s No 1 team and for good reason too, while Cameroon has proved that despite their internal problems, they know how to qualify for the World Cup having done so on nine occasions.
Surprise African champions in 2012, Zambia may no longer be the force they were a few years ago, but the results the other teams in this group record against them could well determine the team on the flight to Russia in 2018.
It was not luck or that Nigeria accidentally found themselves in the toughest qualifying group for the 2018 World Cup, but the failure to qualify for two straight AFCONs sealed the country’s fate.
So, while Egypt were battling Tunisia to get into Pot 1 of the seedings for the qualifying tournament draw, the Eagles already knew their chances of making it to a sixth World Cup had already been hugely compromised by their FIFA ranking.
Brave players and officials have won my admiration for their tough talk soon after the draw, but we all know that football matches are not won on the pages of the newspapers or in the airwaves.
Self delusion and deception only leads to only one thing – FAILURE.
It is what you do on the pitch after all the painstaking preparations outside it that will count on the day, tough talk and brave faces notwithstanding.
One could safely say that for this year, Nigeria has two “manageable” qualifiers – away to Zambia on October 3 and at home to Algeria on November 7 – before the tournament restarts in August 2017 with a home game versus Cameroon.
To stand any chance of qualifying for the next World Cup, both games against Zambia and Algeria are must-win.
And so the build-up for these two games will be first the Rio Olympics in August as well as the final AFCON 2017 qualifier at home against Tanzania.
Nigeria Olympic coach Samson Siasia has listed as many as 19 full internationals on his provisional squad for the summer games and that should be the core of the team for the matches against Zambia and Algeria.
The AFCON qualifier at home to Tanzania in September has now assumed a greater importance as this will serve as the final warm-up before the trip to Zambia the following month.
This match can no longer be played by players from the domestic league as the Eagles will use it to get ready for the clash against The Chipolopolos.
In previous qualifying campaigns, Nigeria has banked on a perfect home record added to a couple of away results to go through, more like Kano Pillars in the league.
But this can no longer be the case as teams have been known to come and get a result in Nigeria these days – For the 2015 AFCON qualifiers, Congo Brazzaville beat Eagles 3-2 in Calabar before South Africa achieved a 2-2 draw in Uyo, while Nigeria failed to beat Egypt in Kaduna before they lost to the Pharaohs to exit the 2017 AFCON.
Then comes the vexed issue of who should coach the Eagles.
Pinnick has made it abundantly clear that Nigeria football salvation is in the hands of a foreign coach, but he also knows he will have to get the cash to pay for such a coach.
Indications still point to Frenchman Paul Le Guen, who has previously worked with Cameroon, as the man the NFF will soon appoint for the top Eagles post.
But is the Frenchman the most suitable man for the job and how do his employers hope to bankroll his contract even if it were just for the qualifiers?
One only hopes that the $1.5m touted to have been made available by an unknown sponsor would not develop into another ‘tale by moonlight.’
The NFF executives were voted to take the best decisions on behalf of a country of 180 million fans and should they fail again in the discharge of this mandate, they ought to take the honourable path of resigning without being told, and not just tell us they have taken responsibility and then fall short of doing the needful.
Audu writes for African football.com
CAF Mulls Super League Idea
The Confederation of African Football [CAF] is discussing the idea of introducing an African Super League, a continental competition which would likely replace the current CAF Champions League and hopefully boost revenue for the organising body.
The revelation was made as CAF President Patrice Motsepe issued a statement outlining the changes and reforms the new leadership is making to ensure African football is globally competitive and self-sustaining.
The idea has taken shape even despite the disastrous European Super League [ESL] proposal earlier this year, which caused major controversy before being banned after most founding member clubs bowed to fan pressure and pulled out.
“ExCo [the CAF executive committee] may have to discuss and consider new CAF competitions which may generate additional funding or income for CAF, its member associations and bodies and also contribute to African football becoming globally competitive and self-sustaining,” Motsepe was quoted as saying by Tidesports source.
“In this regard, we are assessing and [are] in preliminary discussions to start an inclusive and broadly supported and beneficial CAF African Super League. We have been following the attempts by some top European clubs to form a Euro Super League and will learn from their experience and pitfalls.”
CAF is looking to boost income after recent forensic auditing revealed that the organisation has been beset by financial irregularities.
NPFL: Rivers United’s Coach Praises Players
The Chief Coach of Rivers United FC of Port Harcourt, Ndubuisi Nduka, has praised his players after a 1-0 win over Katsina United FC in the match day 28 of the Nigeria Professional Football League ( NPFL) in Port Harcourt.
He stated that his boys (players) gave all their best to ensure they secured the maximum three points for the team, and described the encounter as very tough.
Nduka, said this on Sunday, during a post match interview with sports journalists, after the Pride of Rivers, defeated their opponents 1-0, at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium in Port Harcourt.
According to him, what made the match more difficult for his players was that they failed to utilise goal opportunities they created in the first half of the game.
The only goal of the game came in the 77th minute by home boy, Malachi Ohawume, who made his goals four for this league season.
“It was a tough game; I think our boys gave it all.
What made it more difficult for us was the chances we lost especially in the first half, “ Nduka said.
He explained that the second round of the league is always difficult because every team is fighting to be at top and some are fighting not to be relegated.
“At this point and time of the league, the second round, we are stretching to the finishing point.
“It is always difficult and if you remember the position of Katsina United, they are not safe so they are looking for where to pick points, so I gave kudos to my boys as they secured three points for us, “ he stated.
Rivers United is now 4th on the log after 28 matches with 48 points.
By: Kiadum Edookor
Hockey Championship: Team Rivers’ Performance Excites Coach
The Head coach of Team Rivers State, (female) hockey, Comfort Nya, has commended her players after they defeated team Edo, 3-1 in the ongoing, 2021 Mabisel National Hockey Championship (MNHC) in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
She, described the match as one of the toughest games they have played, saying that the calibre of players she saw in the team Edo lineup was intimidating.
Nya said this on Monday in her post match interview with sports journalists, after their first victory in the championship, at the Adokiye Amiesimaka Sports in Port Harcourt.
According to her, their first game in the championship was difficult because of the heavy downpour, adding that they could not play well but today they are awesome.
“It was a tough one, honestly speaking I would not tell lies, and the players I saw in team Edo lineup are old and good players and my girls are just upcoming.
“I was thinking of draw or let them just play but with this result I am so happy with their performance, “Nya said.
The coach further explained that their next outing will be against team Kaduna, they are going to do more better.
“Our first game was disturbed by heavy rainfall, they could not play well but today they have performed well.
“In our next game against team Kaduna, we are going to do better,” She stated..
By: Kiadum Edookor
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