Cyril C. NwokejiMonday, July 15, 2013




he World cup African qualifying series is gradually nearing an anti-climax for some of the participating countries, Nigeria inclusive. In september, our dear Super Eagles would take on the Malawian XI, for a place in the play offs. We need at least a draw, to qualify, for the play offs, while the Malawians need an outright victory. What this scenario means, is that Nigeria and Malawi, each have a fighting chance of qualifying, for the play- offs. This means the match ,in Nigeria ,on the 6th of September, would be very competitive. The Malawians, would no doubt come out smoking, trying to get the ticket, for the play-offs. They are very serious about this match; apart from hiring a Belgian technical adviser, they have promised very good bonuses to their players, in the event of victory over the Super Eagles.

On our part, the NFF are no doubt taking the match seriously; but they can still do more. What can they do more? They can do more by recalling Sylvanus Okpalla, the former assisstant coach to Stephen Keshi. It is my considerd opinion, that Okpalla, was sacked for reasons of vendetta. It is not the intention of this article, to apportion blame to anybody, for the sacking of Mr. Okpalla. It is well my intention, to emhasize to the NFF, once more, the need to recall Mr. Okpalla, without delay ! Nations go to battles with their very best and brightest. No reasonable nation will go into a very big battle, without her best and brightest. Okpalla is no doubt a soccer tactical master mind, chosen among other coaches by Mr. Keshi, to help him tinker the Super Eagles, when he was appointed coach nearly two years ago. When their hard labour, started bearing fruits, with the Nation's cup victory, the NFF, decided to remove Mr. Okpalla, for the so- called reasons given by the NFF. No doubt Okpalla's removal, has started weighing negatively, on the fortunes of the team. The Super Eagles chief coach, Mr. Stephen Keshi, has confessed he misses Okpalla.

To further butress the point that Nations go to battle with their best and brightest : Brazil in preparation for the World cup, which they will be hosting, next year, have recalled their best and brightest soccer tactical brains, including the coaches, who won their last two World cups, for preparing the" Seleceo, " for the battle on home soil ,come next year. This move has already started bearing fruits ,as evidenced, by their convincing victory, at the Confederations cup, last month. More especially, the 3-0 white -washing of World champions Spain, in the finals, is very note worthy. The Brazillians have one objective for the World cup next year : to be champions on home soil,for the first time. Their loss in the 1950, World cup finals, on home soil, particularly, in the famed Maracana stadium, to Uruguay, still hunts them. They want to put it right this time around, hence they are leaving no Stone unturned. Nigeria should borrow a leaf from the Brazillian example.

In light of this, what do we expect of the NFF? : The Immediate recalling of Mr. Sylvanus Okpalla, to the Super Eagles technical crew. This should be done immediately, in the national interest ! The reason of not being able to pay his salary, does not hold water, because the Anambra state governor, his excellency,Governor Peter Obi, has undertaken to write off his monthly salary. What else are the NFF waiting for? I must hasten to caution the NFF, that in the event of failure, if Okpalla is not recalled, the NFF, would be held partially responsible . They may in this scenario, have inadvertently given the technical crew, a reason to escape being blamed. I am using this medium in calling the NFF, to do what is right and recall, Mr. Okpalla immediately. Tomorrow might be too late!