FEATURE ARTICLE

Cyril C. NwokejiTuesday, November 7, 2017
[email protected]
Belgium

TIME TO TAKE THE SOCCER WORLD BY STORM! (2)

Continued from Part 1

MOTHER LUCK

n any life's endeavour, the influence of good luck, cannot be underestimated. Regardless of the effort one makes towards achieving any objective in life, if one is not sufficiently lucky, those efforts will come to nothing. If for nothing else, the talent one possesses, which plays a big role in achieving success in life, is God-given; God gives luck to his children!

In soccer, good luck plays a great role in the success of teams. The Super Eagles of Nigeria, have had a great dose of good luck over the years; they have also been less than lucky.

For the purposes of this article, we shall focus on the fortuitous rides the Super Eagles have enjoyed over the years, as a consequence of nature's patronage:

In the 1980 Nations' cup semi-final match-up against the Moroccans, the Super Eagles went ahead in the 9th minute, courtesy of a goal scored by Felix Owolabi, alias "Owo blow" or "Mr. one way". The Super Eagles subsequently lost it's hold on the game, mainly due to the unusual tactical mistakes made by Coach Otto Gloria. As a consequence, the Moroccans pressurised the Super Eagles incessantly and nearly got the equaliser. The Super Eagles fortuitously, escaped narrowly, and ran away with a one- goal victory, and qualified for the final, which they eventually won ;

In the 1984 Nations' cup semi-final match against the Egyptians, the Super Eagles, were given no chance by pundits, before the match. When the match started, the Egyptians easily sweept away the initially weak Super Eagles; and were two goals up within the first fifteen minutes of play. Some of us thought it was all over! But the Super Eagles started the great fight back, and scored one through a penalty taken by Skipper Stephen Keshi, before the end of the first half, as a consequence of a foul committed against Chibuzor Ehilegbu, in the penalty box of the Egyptians. The Super Eagles, later equalised in the 75th minute through a goal scored by substitute Bala Ali, off a glancing header, to bring scores to 2-2. The extra time produced no winners and in the resultant penalty shoot-out, Nigeria fortuitously won by 8-7. This ensured the Super Eagles' qualification for the final match;

In the 1988 Nations' cup semi-finals against Algeria, the Super Eagles, went ahead in the first half, off a goal scored by Sam Okwaraji, off an unusually overlapping run by Sunday Eboigbe, alias "Sunday New Benin." The match wore to a gradual close in the second half, and Nigerians thought that victory and qualification for the final, was already in the bag. But helaas the Algerians scored a last minute equaliser through a glancing header by Lakhdar Belloumi, off a corner kick. Nigerians were heart broken! The game had to go to extra time; during which time the Super Eagles lost one player, through the red card, and had the numerical disadvantage of having to continue with ten players! But fortunately for the Nigerians, the Algerians lost one player through injury, since they had used up the then maximally allowed two substitutions, they had to continue the game with ten men like Nigeria, thus, their numerical advantage, was lost! More fortuitous was that the Nigerian player who caused the injury to the Algerian player, got away with a lighter yellow card, for what was obviously a red card offence! In the ensuing penalty reeks that came about after the extra-time failed to resolve the stalemate, the Super Eagles prevailed 9-8; and qualified for the final of the Nations' cup competition;

In the 1994 Nations cup competition, the Super Eagles played out a 2-2 draw against the then defending champions: Ivory Coast; and went on to win the resultant penalty shoot-out, in the semi-finals and qualified for the final, which they eventually won.

The point to be made by the above narrative, is to emphasise how Mother luck, has smiled on the Super Eagles of Nigeria over the years, and given Nigeria sometimes undeserved victory!

For the 2018 World cup competition, starting with the draws to be made on the 1st of December; Nigerians should pray for a lucky draw, so that the Super Eagles can find themselves in an easy or in a not-too - difficult group. This will make qualification for the second round easier. Also a not-too -difficult draw in the second round, will be very much preferable. By the time the Super Eagles get to the quarter-finals, their "motor engine" would have been sufficiently warmed up and probably reached hundred percent efficiency that would enable them do the "giant killing", needed to take the soccer world by storm! Nigerians and all Super Eagles' supporters should please continue to pray for luck. The Super Eagles had a good dose of good luck in the qualification series, as earlier stated; they can make do with more dose of good luck now the real battle is about to start.

TO BE CONTINUED

Continued from Part 1

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