Watching last Saturday’s European Champions League final match made me wander into the dreamland. When will my own country be such a dominant force in its continent as to produce two finalists of the premier inter club competition and concurrently being the custodian of the other continental trophies – the CAF Confederation Cup, the Super Cup and the Africa Cup of Nations.
That was the feat of Spain inside the magnificent Giuseppe Meazza Stadium, which is better known as San Siro in Milan. That was the stadium in which I watched my very first World Cup match 26 years ago.
Even before the kickoff, Spain and the city of Madrid had been the winners. Recall that the “La Furia Roja”, the Spanish national side, is the current European champion. Their club, Sevilla, is the holder of the Europa League Cup for the third year running. The Super Cup is obviously going to Spain when it is contested in August. Is there any doubt as to where the supremacy of European power is domiciled at the moment?
Forget about the glamour of the English Premiership and their theatrical displays on television and the stronghold on the print media. La liga is it. One must therefore commend the League Management Company, LMC, for looking at that direction for the partnership recently made with the Spanish league organizers as a way of improving our domestic league.
In the near future, one hopes to see a situation when Nigerian clubs, like wild fire, will take over the African fields and re-enact an era where all our clubs in continental battles will have to face one another in the finals of competitions as it happened in 1977 (Enugu Rangers versus IICC in African Winners Cup semi finals) and recently in the CAF Champions League when Heartland faced Kano Pillars in the semi finals of the 2009 edition.
One hopes to see a situation whereby our national team will cease to be a laborious outfit, struggling in the continent. We will not have to worry about FIFA rankings as we will always be the top seed in the draws for every competition.
Thoughts of which teams will form the five top seeds to lead the groups for the final phase of the World Cup qualifiers is already worrying many minds.
The truth is however that Nigeria will not be among the top five seeds no matter the parameter employed. Currently 14th in Africa, the 1-0 defeat of Mali last Friday only insignificantly increased our point haul from 540 to 549. This might change should the team loses to Luxembourg on today ahead of new rankings to be released on Thursday.
If Nigeria loses against Luxembourg, it will have a total of 546 points. But a win takes it 556 which only make Nigeria the 12th best in Africa.
With the possibility of been among the top five seeds remote, it is better for the Super Eagles to be prepared for any team, especially the very best ones – Algeria, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Egypt and Tunisia among others. No doubt, we will be grouped with at least one of the powerhouses in the continent. Remember also that only one team per group will scale the hurdle.
Besides, which of the 19 other contesting teams can one easily rule out of contention? The field is a tightly packed one that no team can be regarded as upstart. The Super Eagles must be ready for six rigorous encounters when the next stage opens in October. Only a qualification for the 2018 World Cup can make up for our sagging image.
“Circus of Absurdity”
Money, estacode and all
Anthony Okoka, Jos
A masterpiece illustration on the concocted unpleasant fireworks going on in our NFF orchestrated by Ambassador Chris Giwa. Instead of him to inject positive vibes into our football house, he is inflicting more pains.
Your article on Circus of Absurdity is nothing but the truth. We should put our heads together in moving soccer in our country rather than being selfish. – Colonel Bello, Kaduna.
I am astonished that Mr. Giwa is unrelenting in his quest to mount the saddle of the NFF. That shows that he is determined to inflict injury on the only institution that unites us. Do we take it that Giwa is playing out a drama being put together by some unseen persons? Or else, how can he not be called to order? Time is apt for all lovers of football to rally round the Amaju Pinnick-led NFF as they work to reposition our football. The term of Amaju Pinnick will soon come to an end. It will be wiser for Giwa to begin afresh than to dissipate his efforts on needless litigations.
Cliff Kalu Obia, Ohafia