The Super Eagles woefully failed to qualify for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations also co-hosted by Equatorial Guinea and Gabon which was won by Zambia. We thought then that was the rock bottom of our soccer infamy and that the nation could fall no further beyond that.
We heaved a sigh having thought our shame had been erased in a blaze of glory and hoped to further consolidate on this. Then it happened again, the Super Eagles, as the reigning African Champions, began the qualifiers for this year edition and, like a magic, all sorts of terrible results came pouring in.
Many people were sure Eagles would deliver, the confidence being based on the fact that South Africa had never defeated Nigeria in any competitive match.
Before our very match in the match played at the newly-built Transformation Stadium in Akwa Ibom, the Super Eagles woefully failed to get a win. The nation’s quest for a place in AFCON 2015 was dashed. The worst had happened.
Disaster of this magnitude rarely happened without reason. The two major, albeit, interrelated reasons for this are the players’ irresponsible attitude and the crisis of leadership rocking the Nigerian football Federation.
On players’ attitude, it should be obvious that the present generation of players lacked the spirit of commitment and dedication to the national team that Nigerian players used to have. As a matter of fact they are more concerned with temporary pecuniary gains they would get from the national treasury than anything else. We will all recall what happened during the 2013 Confederation Cup.
The Super Eagles were protesting what they called “callous” reduction of their draw match bonus from USD5000 to USD2500 after they drew with Namibia on June 12, 2013.
The very day the competition started, they were still ensconced in the Namibian hotel! They only budged after they had won the pecuniary battle.
To me, what the players did on that occasion amounted to blackmailing their own nation. What made the matter more appalling is that few months before this national “hold up” when they won the African Cup of Nations in South Africa, the Federal Government had lavished heavy monetary gifts on them. Each of the players was given N5m gift while the Coach got N10m.
These appreciations did not however stop their holding the country to ransom months later on accounts of not being paid correct bonus for playing a draw with a non-soccer nation like Namibia!
There are many countries whose players would be beside themselves with joy for being called up to the national teams. But these satiated, over-pampered and megalomaniac Super Eagles thought they were individually greater than their own country. That is why they could not raise their game beyond mediocrity to get a place among the Africa’s current best. So, we really had it coming!
The second reason. The Nigerian Football Federation was caught up in a vortex of crisis that threatened its very existence and the country’s membership of international soccer brotherhood. The global soccer governing body, Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) banned and unbanned Nigerian in an endless sequence of our soccer administrators’ volte faces and incompetent handling of a basic issue of electing a leader, until fazed by our incorrigibility, FIFA eventually threatened last year to ban Nigeria for a long spell, stressing it would not even revisit the issue until its next congress in June 2015.
Crisis like this, when players were playing qualifiers without the assuring motivation they would even play in the real competition due to FIFA ban, certainly had its negative impact on players’ psychology and undermines success.
KETEFE may be followed on twitter @Ketesco
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