Thursday, 26 December 2013

A Glorious year

The milestone of successes of 2013 remain evergreen in the hearts of Nigerian sports enthusiasts. 

Following a dismal 2012, the fortunes of Nigerian sports could be said to have charted new paths to the glorious years where we were once globally reckoned in our field of events. 

The success story for the Super Eagles at the Africa Cup of Nations in South Africa in January and February after a 19 year wait was capped with the lifting of the trophy for a third time after previous victories at Nigeria 1980 and Tunisia 1994. 

The Eagles went to South Africa with Nigerians expecting little from the team and scathing criticisms on the technical crew, yet, this team failed even the strongest critics to beat tournament favorites Cote d’Ivoire in the quarter finals to win the cup. 

The success story extended to the World Cup qualifiers as the Eagles topped their group to make it to the play off of the mundial which saw them beat Ethiopia home and away to berth in Brazil 2014 for a fifth World Cup appearance following USA 1994, France 1998, Korea/Japan 2002, South Africa 2010

The team has been grouped with Iran, Argentina and Bosnia-Herzegovina in Group F, a group which has been widely applauded by football pundits globally as a possibility for the Super Eagles to qualify without much challenge into the second round especially when our first two matches are against Iran and Bosnia-Herzegovina respectively. 

However, the call for calm and focus on the team still remains paramount as it remains detrimental at this stage to under-rate our opponents who would not sit back, but ensure that they fight till the last group game. 

The experience the Super Eagles had at the Confederation Cup also remains significant in the buildup of the team’s preparations for the World Cup proper.
Though as Africa’s representatives, the Eagles failed to fly at the Confederations Cup, there must be lessons for the team to take home in order to ensure that our next outing year would live happier memories. 

As recently clamored, it is very possible for an African country to reach the semi final of the World Cup next year. African teams have come off age with exceptional quality to talented players and I can proudly state that Nigeria has the brightest prospects of making it to the last four of the World Cup, from there, anything can happen. 

Also, the nation’s home based Super Eagles for the first time since the introduction of the African Championships for players domiciled at home, qualified for the championship scheduled for next year (January 2014) coincidentally in South Africa, a ground that has become a winning home for the Super Eagles and some of our cadre national teams. 

The Golden Eaglets, the nation Under 17 male team never left anyone in doubt why they would be the toast of the world with their victorious celebrating chants of “YES” at the FIFA Under 17 World Cup held in Dubai as they brushed away all opponents to win the trophy. 

The startling revelation in the team has shown the depth of talents in the cadre side which coach Stephen Keshi has invited to join the home based Eagles as they prepare for the Nations Cup. 

To be contd., next week

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