The long wait is over. The mind game is over. Fate and destiny have taken their course. Some started the journey through the qualifiers, laboured and committed everything they had. They spilled blood, broke sweat and bones, but, won’t make it to the Promised Land (Simon Moses).
Some who were not in the radar during qualifiers find their ways by divine arrangement into the aircraft on board Russia (Simeon “Simy” Nwankwo, Joel Obi and Francis Uzoho). Recall how Late Stephen Keshi included Shola Ameobi in the final sqaud for Brazil 2014 World Cup. The former Newcastle United forward was not part of the qualifiers but by Heavenly intervention he was part of the Samba party.
Some prayers have been answered, others not answered because of what the future holds for those praying to make the Russian party but couldn’t. God is no cheat. He has plans for all at the appointed time. John Obi Mikel missed the South Africa 2010 World Cup due to ladt meeting toe injury. As at that time, he never knew he would be leading his country to Russia eight years after as captain.
LAST TWO TO BE DROPPED
You answered the call of your fatherland. You love Nigeria and preferred her for England. You were eager to make the Russia trip. You were dedicated and patriotic enough unlike some others who dumped Nigeria but got shamed by their adopted countries.
You know that if you had chose England ahead of Nigeria, you may not have got the attention of Gareth Southgate.
You are young with a bright future ahead for Nigeria. Stay strong and be hopeful boy. You were not dropped because you are bad but because there are better players. You can improve and get better.
You did everything needed to be in Russia. Everyone testified that you are top notch utility player and good to go but you did not find favour in the sight of the selectors. That does not imply that God is not on your side. There is a better purpose and plan for your career if only you don’t allow this incident to weigh you down. Keep pushing boy!
THE LUCKY 23
You showed guts, bravery and confidence. You stepped into the shoes of Carl Ikpeme as soon as he took ill. You never betrayed the trust the coach placed on you. You guided the post to seal the ticket to Russia. It’s a party you should be part of.
If Carl Ikpeme was not sick, you probably would not be in Russia as Francis Uzoho would have grabbed the third choice goalkeeper glove from you. You must be thankful to Gernot Rohr for holding tight to the guys who worked with him during his early days on the job. Best of luck in Russia as we hope to see you improve.
You came into the team almost during the search for Carl Ikoeme’s replacement. You found favour before the coaches. You exhumed confidence and exhibited passion, promises and patriotism in the friendlies leading to the mundial. You rightly deserve your place.
Arguably, you are the anchor of the back line. Since you shook off the scare of Sunday Oliseh who said you are not good enough, you have continued to soar in leap and bound. Congrats and best wishes in Russia
Your move to Brighton & Hove Albion is a testament and justification of your hardwork and efforts during the qualifiers. By virtue of your move to the EPL you are the biggest defender of Super Eagles at the moment and it is expected that you play the World Cup with ease and comfort.
You have improved with each game. You are one of the reliables of Gernot Rohr. You deserve your place in the squad.
Many do not see what Gernot Rohr sees in you and your style of play. Perhaps you will explode for the World to see in Russia.
You are one of the senior players in this squad. Your experience should count but your impact has not been felt much in this team since the qualifiers. May be you have some surprises in your sleeves in Russia.
You stole the show in the friendly against Argentina played in Russia and ever since, Gernot Rohr had kept his eyes and faith in you. As you return to Russia, one can only hope that you steal more shows.
Perhaps this tournament should bring out your true potentials to stop the serial loan spells which has plagued your career. It is high time you exploded. What an opportunity Russia 2018 presents.
● CHIDOZIE AWAZIEM
It is time to prove yourself. It is time to stand away from being a mere Gernot Rohr boy. It is time to get cracking.
●JOHN MIKEL OBI
Obviously the most experienced player in the team. On your shoulders rest the flight of the team. From the middle you are expected to run the team as captain to do Africa proud. Note that you promised President Muhammadu Buhari the World Cup.
Your form has been suspect since you moved to Turkey. Please correct this impression in Russia otherwise your continuous sloppy performances could be a liability for the team. Remember, but for that tackle by Blaise Matuidi, you had a wonderful experience in Brazil four years ago. You can do better.
Many suggest that your wonderful season in the EPL has taken its toll on you. Boy, you just need to shake off the fatigue and up your game now. The World Cup is for the big boys.
You got a lifeline by being invited to the team after the qualifiers. You struggled to shake off that career threatening injury which is still slowing you down. This is the World Cup. What an opportunity it presents. Where are your runs, skills, killer passes and those left footed set pieces? They are needed now.
You have been severally and serially underrated in this squad for too long. Wake up boy, wake up. Those who know you closely say you alone can run the entire midfield of this team on a good day. No day is better than the World Cup days. Where are those tackles? Where are the markings? Where are those power packed shots? Stop sleeping under the shadows to Mikel and Onazi. You can do better.
You are arguably the most energetic Eagle in this squad. You are full of hustling, burstling and running. You have an eye for goals. You are not short of skills. Let’s go there, boy!
Enough of the goals drought. You need to rediscover your talismanic prowess. The World Cup is not for strikers who experience famine.
The speed, pull outs and goals are needed now. Playing in Russia your second home should be of great advantage. The magic that attracted Leicester City to acquire you before you dropped form and returned to Moscow is needed now by Super Eagles. Arise Musa, arise.
If your performance in Wembley is a tip of the iceberg, please give us more in Russia. The expectation is high as you have set the tone ahead of the mundial. This could be your tournament.
The last three seasons have seen you on the rise. This tournament could cap it all. Your energy, runs, zeal, patriotism and match-winning instincts are needed in Russia.
Five years ago you dazzled and dazed the world at the cadet level. Here is an opportunity to step up your reputation and win back your fame and influence terminated untimely by Pep Guardiola who sent you out of Manchester City. Truth must be told, you gave also not helped your course in Leicester City since joining the club on a record transfer. In this team Super Eagles, you have been relegated to the bench as a substitute and when it is considered that you have run dry of goals, it gives cause for concern. Kindly, change all the negative narratives in Russia.
You came into the team by stroke of fate and divine arrangement. You showed promising flashes against Congo DR. The big one is here, take the bull by the horn boy.
By Desmonnd Ekwueme