Some sloppy defending over two legs eliminated the Super Eagles from a successive African Nations Cup competition. This is pathetic for a country with such a rich football tradition as Nigeria’s, but it accurately depicts the rot that has become of our once great National team. Amongst several other reasons, this deterioration of the Super Eagles is occasioned by the frequent change – and mediocrity – of its leadership.
In 2011, Nigeria failed to qualify for the 2012 AFCON because interim Coach Austin Eguavoen already had the team on the back-foot before the team was handed over to Samson Siasia. After the euphoria of winning the 2013 AFCON, the team depreciated to utter garbage under Stephen Keshi and eventually failed to qualify for the 2015 AFCON. The enormous rot in the team could not be ameliorated by an inexperienced Oliseh whose untimely resignation after a few months of a trial-and-error attempt culminated in another non-qualification for the 2017 AFCON – the third in four consecutive editions.
When Nigeria won the Nations Cup three years ago, it was because the majority of African football powers were undergoing a dip. Egypt for instance, after a hat trick of continental success went under, rebuilding. Today, a resurgent Egyptian side has knocked the Eagles out of the next Nations Cup because of Nigeria’s failure to build on the 2013 victory due to the managerial ineptness of Keshi and to a certain degree, Oliseh.
In very stark contrast, the Super Eagles has played some of the best football we have seen since 2011 in the last week, proving that the new coaching crew has been able to impact on the team. Of course there are obvious glitches here and there; the level of decay cannot be undone in a matter of days.
It is consequently obvious from the slight progress we have seen in the team in just a few weeks that given time, this coaching crew can build a formidable Super Eagles team for the 2018 World Cup. It will therefore be a huge disservice to the country if the team’s current leadership is again changed.
Going forward, Siasia should shift focus to the preparation for the Olympic Games football event with a view to rebuilding the Eagles from the Under-23 side.
The last qualifying game at home in June could be used to assess Super Eagles players like Shehu Abdullahi, Stanley Amuzie, Phillip Madu, Kenneth Omeruo, William Troost-Ekong, Anderson Esiti, Alex Iwobi, Moses Simon, Chisom Chikatara as well as others like Derik Osede, Musa Yahaya, Michael Olaitan and Isaac Success, with a view to incorporating them into the Olympic team.