Disappointment over Super Eagles World Cup ouster
SIR: On March 29, 2022, the Super Eagles of Nigeria served Nigerians a sour supper of disappointment and disillusionment when they stumbled to an insipid defeat against the Black Stars of Ghana in the final qualifying round of the Qatar 2022 World Cup at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.
Having defied hostile conditions to eke out a creditable 0-0 draw against the same opponents in Kumasi, Ghana, on March 25, 2022, expectation was fever-pitch that the Black Stars would finally be dimmed in the “Jollof derby” between two of West Africa`s premier footballing powerhouses.
However, with thousands of Nigerians who had travelled from far and near to cheer the Super Eagles, it took eleven minutes for some calamitous goalkeeping from Nigerian goalkeeper, Francis Uzoho, to gift Ghana the goal that ultimately sent them to the World Cup. The disappointment has been debilitating to put it mildly.
Nigeria was therefore left to look in from the outside while less endowed sporting countries participate in the World Cup, for the first time since Angola sensationally piped the country to the ticket in 2006.
In 2006, Mr. Austine Eguavoen drew from the breakout stars of Nigeria`s second place finish at the U-20 World Cup in Holland in 2005, melded them with established and experienced stars and successfully guided Nigeria to a third place finish at the African Cup of Nations in Egypt. It remains his only achievement of note in charge of the national team.
Yet, when in December 2021, the Nigeria Football Association indulged the toxicity of its delusions and muddled thinking to wield the axe on Gernot Rohr, the German coach, who successfully guided the country to the 2018 World Cup, and a third place finish at the African Cup of Nations the following year, it was Mr. Eguavoen, a relic of the old days, that was summoned to the role.
Thus, while the Super Eagles laboured in vain against the Black Stars, it was a spent force that occupied Nigeria`s technical area, shorn of ideas and charisma as Nigeria`s World Cup dreams supinely slipped away.
Sports is an equalizer, an elixir of undoubted efficacy. Its ability to positively distract as well as heal has been proven again and again over the years. Many countries reeling from internal turmoil and international scrutiny have successfully turned to sports for catharsis and the results have been overwhelmingly positive.
With Nigeria confronting a mountain of problems at the moment, a besieged country can do with sporting triumphs even as its beleaguered citizens should do well to refrain from romanticizing adversity and failure.
In the wake of this failure, Nigeria must pick up the pieces and start again. But those who cannot pick up the pieces because their fingers have been rendered too tender by complacency, complicity and corruption must be cast into the wilderness of disuse.
• Kene Obiezu, email@example.com