Cyril C. NwokejiFriday, November 29, 2013




y appreciations of our world cup qualification, may be somewhat belated, due to unforseen circumstances, nevertheless, one considers it worthwhile appreciating the efforts of those gallant and patriotic Nigerians and their handlers who have further put the name of Nigeria, on the global soccer agenda. They are indeed heroes who should be celebrated!

I will break with tradition and not carry out an indepth analysis of the match against the " Walya Walya wa-ha-la Antelpes, " who gave us a run for our money, notwithstanding our enviable ratings as African champions; for this is time to celebrate and be merry, there will be enough time for analysis in the weeks ahead. I will however hasten to say that Nigeria defeated Ethiopia cleanly and clearly, and there was no cheating or trickery about our victory. Granted the Super Eagles didn't out play the Ethiopians, in Calabar, one is still of the conviction that we were better. We were efficient and achieved our objectives. All those talks by the Ethiopian coach of our victory being aided and abetted by the refree is as ludicrous as it is stupid. The Ethiopians should accept the defeat, in the true spirit of sportmanship and move on. Notwithstanding the fact that they have made giant strides, in their soccer development in the last few years, they are still some classes below Nigeria; and untill they get to our standards in soccer, baring any stroke of good luck, qualification for a world cup tournament will remain a pipe dream ! This is not riddiculing them, but a candid piece of advice .

That said, lets refocus on the purpose of this article : celebrating our heroes - the Super Eagles and their handlers. Who should be acknowledged for this victory ?:

- The almighty God who blessed Nigeria and still blesses Nigeria with highly talented soccer players, who have continued to do Nigeria proud; and of course gave us the good luck nedded for success of this magnitude. I sincerely believe that our dear country Nigeria, is richly blessed in all facets of human endeavour and is a country destined by God to survive, regardless of the numerous challenges being faced by Nigeria. That is how it goes in life; a life without challenges, is no life ! I am especially of this conviction, based on my personal experiences in life. Nigeria is too important a country, by God's estimations ,to break up. E go better for Nigeria !

- Our soccer loving President: President Goodluck Jonathan, has more than any previous Nigerian leader, gone to a very far extent to encourage the Super Eagles, to attain greater heights. He unconventionally underbroke state duties in far away Ethiopia, to personally visit and encourage the Super Eagles, during their preparations for the first leg tie against the Ethiopians , in the final world cup play off. His government, has further stated it's willingness to financially encourage the preparations of the Super Eagles, for Brazil, 2014. Wow, bravo, Mr. President !

- The very brave, patriotic and highly determined Super Eagles players; who personally bore the greatest stresses and strains, required to be knocked into shape for the various battles they faced; and also bore the fullest brunt of facing their difficult opponents on the field of play. To them, one says: thanks a million !; Nigeria would never forget your sacrifices. They are heroes and should be celebrated for a very, very ,very ,very long time to come !

- Our dear chief coach: Stephen Okechukwu Keshi. One says bravo, for a job well done so far. When Keshi took over the mantle of coaching responsibilty of the Super Eagles, two years ago, one reluctantly voted in the affirmative to the poll conducted by " Kick off Nigeria," which asked Nigerians, if they thought Stephen keshi, could turn in the positive direction, the fortunes of the Super Eagles. My affirmative answer, was not born out of a great conviction, over Keshi's coaching prowess, but out of blind optimism, to see us, get out of the soccer doldrums we found ourselves. One must confesss that in two years of having handeld the Super Eagles, Keshi has not only turned the fortunes of the Super Eagles, but that of the entire Nigerian soccer, in the positive direction; through the unimaginable successes, he has led Nigeria's teams to in the last two years. To the "big boss," one says bravo !; keep up the good work and may your shadow, never grow less !

- To the other members of the coaching crew:

*Sylvanus Okpalla - who was a member of this coaching crew till March; one says a big thank you for your contributions. I am seizing this opportunity, to once again call on the NFF, to reconsider it's position on Sylvanus Okpalla, and recall him back to the Super Eagles' coaching crew.

*Daniel Amokachi - another fine member of the coaching crew, a big thank you, for your efforts, so far .

* Ike Shorunmu - a lot of thanks for your efforts; as a member of the Samson Sia Sia-led coaching crew, he helped in no small way to ensure a smooth transition between the Sia Sia and Keshi eras .

* Valerie Hyandounou - a big thank you for your efforts thus far .

- To the members of the backroom staff , one says a very big thank you; and urges you to keep up the good work, in the months ahead .

- The NFF: one expresses one's sincere gratitude for the positive decisions taken that have ensured Super Eagles ' successes .

- To all Nigerians : one says, a very, very, very ,very, big thank you, for the sincere concerns for the fortunes of this great team. We are all heroes and should be celebrated !

And the Italian friendly?

I was particularly impressed with what I saw; an expermental Super Eagles team holding the 2006 world cup champions to ransome. Wow, Bravo , to those gallant Nigerians ! I am happy the NFF, have decided to organise grade A friedlies for the Super Eagles from next year, in the build -up to the world cup.

The talk about a foreign technical assisstant for the Super Eagles ?

Yours sincerely is oppossed to this idea; except if Keshi asks for one . The sports authorities, should not impose any one on Keshi. Keshi, has proved in the last two years that he is capable of coaching the Super Eagles, even at the world cup. In the words of Adokiye Amesimaka :" keshi has built a remarkable team in two years ." I couldn't agree more .

In conclusion, one can make bold to say that from the ashes of our past failure as a soccer nation, the Super Eagles, have risen up to become the near fantastic team of today, and more gratifying with the potential of being an even better team tomorrow; and in this wonderful story, the role played by the Keshi -led technical crew cannot be underestimated .