Super Eagles will excel in Egypt 2019 AFCON. It is my opinion. The following reasons buttress my submission…
The team has always done well each time it features in a tournament held in the Magreb region. Maroc ’88 where it finished runners-up….Algiers ’90 where it finished runners-up…Tunisia ’94 which it won…Tunisia 2004 where it ended the tournament with a bronze medal….and Egypt 2006 which it also ended with a bronze medal.
Super Eagles won their first AFCON away from home in Tunisia ’94 (North Africa)…this was after winning it on homesoil, Nigeria (in West Africa) in 1980. The last time the team won the trophy was in 2013 in South Africa (Southern part of the continent).
Perhaps returning to Egypt in North Africa in this tournament could propel another success.
The team is certainly hungry for glory having been experiencing dwindling performance as observed in Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup.
This hunger stems from the fact that 98% of the present squad members have not won anything in the colours of Nigeria. Aside team captain John Obi Mikel and Ahmed Musa, no other player in this 23-man squad has lifted any trophy with the Super Eagles.
A youthful squad is a hungry squad. When a team parades several young players, the players play for themselves. They want to win something and carve a niche for themselves. They are hungry to make a mark.
They know that excelling in AFCON will open doors for better deals cum contracts with their clubs or better offers from top European clubs. For instance, Samuel Chukwueze has a whopping €63m slammed on him as buying clause/fee by Villareal.
The boy surely knows that this is his tournament. He has to explode to make a lasting impression in the minds of agents, scouts and club managers of big teams in Europe. Chukwueze is not alone in this big dream. There is also Victor Osimhen who is on loan from Wolfsburg of Germany to Charleroi of Belgium. He needs a better deal with preferably a bigger club. He knows his fate is tied around this tournament.
Fans of the Super Eagles back home are not expecting much from because the team has continued to disappoint overtime. The team failed to qualify for this tournament back to back in 2015 and 2017 editions….and in Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup, the team fumbled thus reducing the expectations of fans on it.
This certainly takes off huge pressure from the team thus allowing the players to enjoy themselves by displaying their talents which could spring up excellent performance.
Each time Super Eagles play without pressure, they churn out superb performance which make their fans happy. Egypt 2019 may not be different as much is not expected from a team with dwindling performances in the last four years.
Again, we must consider the climate or weather. The weather in Egypt is almost similar to that of Europe where 99% of Super Eagles players ply their trades. Yes, they may not be the only team with majority of their players playing in Europe but at least they are part of those who have this advantage. It is therefore, a matter of which team cashes more on this advantage.
By Desmond Ekwueme