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2021 AFCON: Why Nigerian Football Will Remain in Chaos

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It’s the morning after the morning after Super Eagles’ ouster from the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

I don’t feel as sore as I did 24 hours ago, but every now and then, something reminds me of the 1 – 0 loss to Tunisia.

Either it is one disgusting PR message on Twitter in defence of Super Eagles goalkeeper, Maduka Okoye (more on that later); or it is the attempt to bring up the Gernor Rohr sack issue.

Make no mistake, sacking Rohr at the time we did was a terrible decision. With just a few weeks to the start of the tournament, it left Nigeria with little time to prepare adequately due to the ensuing chaos.

Credit where due, Rohr did an amazing job considering where we were when he took charge of the team in 2016.

But the German tactician had to go!

 

Rohr had basically come full cycle and had overstayed his welcome. One of the worst legacies of the Rohr era was making Nigerians doubt the abilities of the Super Eagles.

I practically stopped watching the team play over the last 18 months because I could not stand the horror show on display.

Matter of fact, I am still surprised that 48 hours after the Super Eagles were knocked out of AFCON 2021, I still feel some pain. I thought I had lost every single passion for the Eagles.

I would not have cared just two months ago.

So, in a sense, like I said on a Twitter space yesterday, it is a good thing that I feel these emotions.

Austin Eguavoen’s refreshing display, at least in the group stages, rekindled some form of hope and desire to follow the national team again.

Yet again, the great group stage display does not in any way hide the fact that the Super Eagles had its worst AFCON outing since I was two years old, 1982 to be precise; losing in the first knock-out stage of the AFCON is not what Nigeria is known for.

Despite our shoddy preparations, a chaotic coaching situation, and missing some of our key players, you’d expect that the quality of players in the set-up is enough to at least reach the last eight.

But for how long are we going to continue in this blind alley we are being led on by those who are in charge of football in the country?

My honest answer is that we will remain on this trajectory for a long time to come as sad as it sounds.

For those of you who don’t know, the Amaju Pinnick led Nigeria Football Federation has little or no desire about growing football in the country.

The NFF boss is mainly concerned about how to reach the pinnacle of the world football administration through his Nigerian position.

Because how do you explain the showmanship display that characterised our Cameroon outing?

What business does the NFF boss have to always be in the dressing room at halftime to give a pep talk?

How the heck does Pinnick allow his friends and associates go on with the disgusting PR moves promising dollar reign after the great start of the Super Eagles?

             

How did we get to the point where Rohr was owed salaries?

Why did Sunday Oliseh fight to get paid years ago after Pinnick held a World Press Conference to announce he had secured a bank to offset Oliseh’s bills?

Why is AITEO still a proud sponsor of the NFF when the Federation Cup that supposedly is its responsibility is one of the worst organised football competitions in the world?

How on earth is football in Nigeria majorly about the Super Eagles while the local league has been in shambles for years now?

Again, the answers may not be straightforward but I have a simple one: Amaju Pinnick and his NFF board do not care about you.

The earlier you come to that reality, the easier it will be to deal with the pain that comes with following Nigerian football.
 

The Maduka Okoye Debate

Let me begin by saying that the abuse that has been meted out to the Super Eagles goalkeeper has no place whatsoever.

You can as well criticise the keeper’s performance without resorting to the level of insults that has made him deactivate his Instagram account.

It is disgusting!

What is equally disgusting for me personally, is the PR currently going on from some of my colleagues to defend the new Watford keeper.

                    

Since making his debut in 2019, Okoye has had just about an above-average performance for the Super Eagles. I cannot recall that one game he has had where his heroics or saves have won Nigeria a game or earned the Super Eagles points.

Instead, it is a known fact that since illness deprived Nigeria of the services of Carl Ikeme, the goalkeeping position has become a problem.

Okoye has done little to inspire Nigerians or even his defenders that he is the solution.

The 22-year-old shot-stopper may just about become a great goalie for the team in years to come, but it is disingenuous to suggest that the best of keepers make mistakes as a defence for Okoye.

Agreed no one is above mistakes, but Okoye has not earned the right to be ranked alongside the very top keepers who have made errors.

And no amount of PR will change that.


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