Super Eagles through their captain, John Obi Mikel did assure President Muhammadu Buhari that they will return home with the World Cup. They couldn’t have done that if they are not psychologically prepared and motivated to do themselves, Nigeria and indeed Africa proud.
Moments after their kits were made public, it turned out the most sought after kits in the world. Nike sold 3 million jerseys in one swoop as demand for Super Eagles kits hit the sky. The jersey of Brazil’s Selecao one if Nike’s most respected and reverred clients is not selling upto half the figure of Eagles shirt. This implies that Eagles won’t lack support in Russia the home of Olga, Mikel’s spouse.
From artistes (Wizkid) to comedians (AY) to artisans (who are producing all manners of items to support the team) to housewives to administrators and to governors (Nyesom Wike and Emmanuel Udom) the jerseys of Super Eagles is a must-wear thus, routing for the team and vociferously too. Can Eagles afford to rubbish this huge support?
They “Win the World Cup and get N8.4bn” promise made by the leadership of the NFF during the meeting with the senior players of the team where the issue of bonuses and allowances were settled in London following the team’s qualification should motivate the boys.
Truth is Super Eagles of Nigeria have never had it so good in preparation to the World Cup or any tournament in recent times. Not even Nigeria’s debut appearance in the mundial in USA ’94 got this massive boost in terms of preparation. What more other than for the boys to roll up their sleeves and get down to work for their cool bucks.
The 1-0 defeat suffered in the hands of Czech Republic is Eagles ‘ third since qualifying for Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup. It is also a straight second leading to the World Cup after the 2-1 loss to England in Wembley. Yes, they lost to Serbia 2-0. But that should not discourage Nigerians or the team. We must remember that group opponents, Argentina lost 4-2 to this same Nigerian team months back. Croatia and Iceland the two other group opponents of Eagles’ have also lost pre-World Cup games two weeks back. We must also recall that in 1994, Super Eagles lost three of their pre-World Cup games yet went ahead to dazzle and entertain the world in their very maiden appearance.
Eagles know that they have their jobs cut out in Russia just as they have their backs to the wall. At least if they cannot win the World Cup, they should be able to reach a decent stage which should be record making for Nigeria and Africa. The semis is a tall order but it is fair enough and achieveable.
By Desmond Ekwueme