I watched in shock and disbelief as some irate and disappointed compatriots, violently stormed the M.K.O Abiola Stadium, Abuja on the 29th of March 2022. Vandalizing property as they marched forward.
Our very own Super Eagles had just faced painful elimination from the forthcoming 2022 World cup in Qatar, by the Black Stars of Ghana.
I could not help but be saddened at the now confirmed reality; Our worldwide admirable and respected status as a relevant Top World and African football nation, my colleagues and I in the ’90s and early 2000 ‘s worked so hard to help Nigeria achieve, was now officially facing damage, big time!
How did it get so bad?
Let’s be crystal clear on one thing though; I am categorically in no way, in support of the vandalizing of property and attempts to attack players, opposing fans or players, etc that these fans are rumored to have carried out.
They could have shown their displeasure in a more measured and civil manner, I feel. Violence cannot be condoned in Football!
I was back home in Nigeria with family and friends when the super eagles played the 0-0 first leg encounter in Ghana and witnessed first-hand the pain and disappointment in the eyes of my fellow countrymen.
Strangely simultaneously, I experienced a total lack of interest by some, arguably due to the now constant deceptions they have witnessed in the last decade of Nigerian football.
A business office worker I visited earlier in the day, was totally unaware the Super Eagles had a crucial world cup qualifier that day but was quick to share with me the opposing club his favorite English Premier League club was playing next after the international break, date and time. Shocking!!
In hindsight, we should have seen this coming. The manner in which the Super Eagles lost at the 2019 Afcon to Madagascar, or in 2021 to Central African Republic (C.A.R) in Lagos, or the incredible and now shocking but legendary 4-4 draw versus Sierra Leone on home turf, after having led 4-0 by the Super Eagles, should have made us prepared for the impending disastrous breaking point we are now experiencing.
But I guess our ever-patriotic optimism blinded our objectivity to this, End Result? the next 2022 world Cup is going to be without Nigeria.
Financially this will arguably, deprive Nigeria’s economy, and especially the Football community, of an estimated 12 million U.S Dollars, hurt the media world, the local league, football development schemes etc will have a monumental further strategic multiplier effect’
Now that we have fallen this deep, what next?
Every great food or raw material exporting nation in the world has some basic peculiarities in common; Good and well-maintained farmlands, farmers, seeds, and good climate just to mention a few.
Similarly, in every football nation, the local league is the equivalent of the farmland above and football players are the seeds of this multi-billion dollars generating sports industry.
Fortunately, we are blessed with, in my opinion, one of the best African players of the moment in Victor Osimhen.
If employed correctly, I am totally convinced that this outstanding player is capable of being a catalyst in improving our football fortunes.
The state of the Nigerian local league is arguably an extremely dire state, compared to other football leagues in Africa if not the world.
Sadly, even some internally “civil warring” world nations are even achieved better results than we are e.g., Libya.
Its state is so sad, that some of our citizens, maybe understandably, ignore our local league’s existence to the benefit of the English premier league or Other worldwide football competitions.
This has consequently, crippled the means of livelihood of thousands of home-based Nigerian professional footballers and the related commercial football economy linked to It.
The catalyst multiplier effect of this decay runs in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Unfortunately, many are unaware of the consequences or are just plain tired of worrying and feel helpless!
Solutions? Fix The Local League. How: for starters, introduce regulations and penalties that go as far as, but are not limited to criminal convictions. Etc…. for violations
Enforcer? The National Football Federation, state FA’s, you, I, and especially the government.
My point is, that effective government legislation and sanctions are needed and more to get our football back on track, urgently!
I am totally amazed at the Gigantic erroneous belief by some compatriots, that the disastrous problem of Nigeria in the recent past 6 years is limited to just poor coaching of the super Eagles. True the coaching is an integral crucial part of the crisis, but not totally the sole reason. This error can only be fuelled if you really falsely believe that the National team’s coach is solely responsible for creating talented great Eagles players. In fact, the National Coach in France, for clarity reasons on this, is called “le selectioneur” and not “l’entrainer” you got it… Selector and not Coach!
The much-acclaimed and successful former super eagles coaches, Clemence Westerhoff and Jo Bonfrere excelled with the Super eagles with players produced from the then Vibrant Nigerian Local league, but they could not achieve any other notable success once they left Nigeria to work in other countries. That speaks volumes I believe of the Nigerian capabilities. There is something special in our 200 million-plus population.
This is in no way minimizing their contributions to our legendary status back then, on the contrary, they were good but they achieved relative great success thanks to the local qualitative players they had to work with, the then fanatical Nigerian super eagles fan base, etc.
For those who are curious about how Nigerian legendary players and NFA staff, back in the years carved out extraordinary legendary feats to the benefit of Nigeria, then wait no longer, get a copy of the resourceful book, entitled “The Audacity to Refuse” by clicking here, and marvel at the exploits of legends like Rashidi Yekini, Stephen Keshi, Daniel Amokachi, Jay Jay Okocha, Celestine Babayaro, etc both on the African scene and worldwide. You will be amazed at what and how these “boys” achieved for Nigeria!
If you have been following my “modus” in the past, you will have noticed that I personally despise the act of just criticizing others, events, or issues, without having the ability to propose solutions at the same time. So, as you read along, don’t ignore the solutions proposed below, and feel free to share yours.
If you have any constructive ideas on this, feel free to leave me your comments below and we will rub minds and who knows, help make our football better. Stay open-minded and blessed.