Cyril C. NwokejiTuesday, July 8, 2014




he World cup is over for our dear Super Eagles; we got eliminated in the second round and as a consequence equalled our best ever performance at the World cup. It was sixteen long years ago since we got that far at the World cup competition; and as a consequence of this latest sucess, Coach Stephen Keshi, became the first African coach to lead an African team to the last sixteen of the World cup competition. Wow, kudos to Nigeria and the "big boss," for this latest success.

Those Nigerians who were disappointed the Super Eagles didn't go further, should temper their disappointment with the realisation that the Super Eagles, were assembled from the scratch some thirty-two months ago, by the Coach Keshi-led technical crew. They started from the scratch to assemble the Super Eagles, at a time the reputation of the Super Eagles, was at an all time low: the Super Eagles, apart from getting the unenviable nick-name of " Super chickens," from our Ghanaian friends, no thanks to the non-performance of the Super Eagles at the 2008 Nations cup competition, in Ghana; had failed to make a mark at the 2010 World cup competition, in South -Africa. This coupled with our unexpected failure to qualify for the 2012 Nations cup competition, in Gabon and Congo Brazaville, all contributed in reducing the 'marketability,' of the Super Eagles. In just thirty -two months, the Stephen keshi-led technical crew, succeded in recording success after success, to drastically turn around the fortunes of the Super Eagles : winning the "Catalonia challenge," in 2013; winning the 2013 edition of the Nations cup competition, in South -Africa, after an ' interregnum,' of nineteen years, certainly a very long 'interregnum ,' for a soccer nation like Nigeria; winning the "Nelson Mandela " challenge, in 2013; qualifying for the World cup tournament and getting as far as the second round, our best ever performance in sixteen years, and for that matter under the leadership of an African coach, a primeur for that matter !

Meethinks the above mentioned reeks of successes associated with the Super Eagles, which have helped to 'ban ' hopefully forever, the 'caricutures,' associated with the team, no thanks to the hitherto bad performances, show they have done quite well, over the last thirty -two months, to deserve our collective kudos! The Super Eagles and the technical crew are heroes that should be celebrated !

A second round elimination, at the World cup, for a very young side like the Super Eagles, is no schandal, rather than looking at the elimination from the point of view of failure or set back, yours sincerely, sees it as a "learning experience," which if properly harnessed can only be to our long term benefit. Realistically, devoid of all sentiments, the Super Eagles didn't deserve to go beyond the second round of the World cup competition. The FIFA senior World cup competition, is the epitome of soccer competition, and only the best teams in the world, do well at the competition. The Super Eagles ,considering the above mentioned factors did quite well; they got to their limit at the 2014 World cup competition and should be commended for their performance.

If Nigerians expect the Super Eagles, to go beyond the second round stage at the 2018 FIFA World cup competition, in Russia, the time to start planning is now! It is a popular maxim in sports that, the time to start planning for the next sports competition, is at the end of the latest edition of the sports competition in question. We should start planning for " Russia 2018 ," right away! A first step in this direction, would be the extension of the contract of Coach Stephen Keshi and the technical crew. They have done well in the last thirty -two months, to certainly deserve a contract extension. Less succesfull coaches, like the Ghanaian Coach Appiah, have gotten a contract extension, why not Stephen Keshi? The NFF ,should realise they don't have an eternity to do this; as nations are queing up wanting to snap up the "big boss." The earlier he is commited to a new contract, the better !

On a final note, meethinks if the lessons of Brazil 2014 and the other useful experiences the Super Eagles have gotten in the last thirty-two months are effectively put to use, the Super Eagles would be much stronger, at the World cup competition, in 2018; then our collective dreams of advancing beyond the second round, would deservedly get a meaning!

This we hope and pray: " Iseeeeehhh !!!"