Nigeria’s dream of emerging the African Football Champion for the fourth time at the AFCON fiesta in Cameroon was cut short by the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia. The Super Eagles suffered a 1-0 defeat in the second half of the elimination stage. It was very painful. Nigerians are bitter. Others are in tears too. It was expected that the stellar performance displayed by the Eagles in the preliminary stages will be maintained. However, the line up for the crucial stage could not live up to the expectation. That is football. You cannot win all the time.
It is instructive to note that the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia struggled throughout the preliminary stages of the tournament. The team was almost written off. They are on track by combined effort of hard work, determination and luck. When the captain of the Tunisian side Youssef Msakani was asked his opinion about their last match with Sudan, he struggled to with the right answer. But finally said the “best team will win.”
Considering the awkward situation they found themselves, the team has to go back to the drawing board, identify their weaknesses and close the observed yawning gaps. I read some where before the match that; Nigeria and Tunisia had played eighteen times with six wins at par and six draws. Therefore, it would be suicidal to underrate either team or any other for that matter as their seem not to be any under dog in football any longer.
Surprisingly, the loss was weaved around the conspiracy of “a presidential phone call.” It is laughable to attribute football failure to an altruistic phone call. What happened to preparations? People play politics in Nigeria with any available weapon at their disposal. And regrettably a whole lot of dumb individuals subscribe to that deception. This same kind of whole sale deception unfortunately threw up the likes of Buhari as president. In fact, President Buhari is a product of fake and unfounded conjectures, postulations, false narratives and unlimited propaganda.
How gullible could a people be? The answer can be found in many Nigerians. Nigerians are highly educated, smart but very gullible and superstitious. They can fall for any fallacy. That was why people are easily duped by uneducated “wonder bank operators” and yahoo boys. They carefully give their ears and time to all manners of garbages.
And this new “cause of failure” was sold to Nigerians by a politician and Pastor called Reno Omokri – the self styled table shaker. He first sounded the alarm on his verified Meta account. He wrote, ” Oh, oh! Why did NFF allow Buhari speak with the Super Eagles players now? What is wrong with NFF? Have they forgotten what happened to Anthony Joshua? Our Eagles in the last AFCON? Please, we want to win. Who has Buhari spoken to and they won…? With his prediction coming through, he announced on the same account; ” Buhari is the reason Tunisia defeated Nigeria so disastrously.” He concluded with what he called prayer point for the week; “May Buhari not phone you on the day that is scheduled for your appointment and promotion and celebration.”
Senator Shehu Sani, always shrewd in his commentaries and action also alluded to the danger lurking around as a result of the call. He wrote on his verified Meta page of over 350, 000 followers thus; “now that him don put mouth for Eagles, na only God fit save dem.” At least, one can understand the basis of the dummy sold to Nigerians as reason for the exit by both Reno and Sani. They were big time political losers!
There was no direct correlation or connection between the super Eagles exit from the tournament and the presidential call. And never will there be. It is spurious to say so. President Buhari’s performance indices is very low and goodwill has greatly nose dived but he should be spared on this. For your information, I am neither a Buharist nor Buharideen. Therefore spare me your blistering criticism. It is on record that I have constructively engaged Buhari’s government on several issues.
I did not hear or read where Tunisian President called his players but they won. So why did they win? The virtual call made by the president was commendable. No president will sit by without doing what Buhari did. The protocol was excellent. If he did not call, many a people will still blame him.
The postulations of Reno and Sani produced an answer no doubt. Not because they made sense or that they are true. But on account of many other reasonable factors which they both were aware of but refused to point out.
First, The team left by Gernot Rohr was not smart and a smoking one. It was not tipped to win. Even if the German coach had led them to the competition, they would not have made any difference. The nation would have still prayed and wished to win. Despite the fact that Nigeria ranks 34th in the world and 5th in Africa, the team was in need of rejuvenation. Nothing was done quickly.
Two Rohr was not the dream coach of an expected high performing Eagles. He should have been relieved of his duties long time ago. It would have given the team an opportunity to blend with a new coach.
Three, the expertise of those at Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) who decided to fire a coach at the eve of an African tournament is questionable. What is also the meaning of hiring a foreign coach and leave him out of a crucial competition?
Buhari and APC introduced junk propaganda to the Nigerian politics. They cook up stories, maligned individuals and splash bad contents and wrong narratives on the previous administration. The President and his party is getting full doses of their malicious trade they introduced into the polity in full, pressed down and shaken.
Sports enthusiasts and analysts understood that it is always difficult for Nigerian teams to survive elimination stages. Experienced teams and one built resilience to sustain the pressure always win.
The North African teams are known to be leaders in AFCON. They exhibit tact and professionalism.Therefore, it is not a surprise the Tunisian side won. In fact either side would have.
The lesson of AFCON should not be missing in the hay sack of a deliberate propaganda or pay back stunt. The NFF should go back to the drawing board. Two years is good enough to prepare for the next tournament.
Eze, a media and communication specialist, writes via [email protected]; 08060901201