Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Super Eagles: Between September 1 and 5

Super Eagles: Between September 1 and 5

In less than six weeks, MatchDay Three and Four of the Group B World Cup qualifier towards Russia 2018 between the Super Eagles of Nigeria and the Indomitable Lions of Cameroun will hold in Uyo , Akwa Ibom State on Friday, September1, 2017 and on Tuesday, September 5, 2017 in Yaoundé, Cameroun.

The rivalry between Nigerian and Cameroun on the field of play cannot be over emphasised. These two great teams are among Africa’s top five teams and any fixture between them holds not only the continent but the world to a standstill.

Head to head between these two teams. The Lions hold a stronger record and psychological advantage over the Eagles with records in competitive fixtures in 1968  Nigeria versus Cameroun (1-1) FIFA World Cup, Cameroun versus Nigeria in 1968 (2-3) FIFA World Cup, Nigeria versus Cameroun in 1978 (0-0) All Africa Games, Cameroun versus Nigeria in 1984 (3-1) Africa Cup of Nations, Nigeria versus Cameroun in  1988 (1-1) Africa Cup of Nations (group stage), Cameroun versus Nigeria in 1988 (1-0), Cameroun versus Nigeria 1989 (1-0) World Cup qualifier, Nigeria versus Cameroun (2-1), Africa Cup of Nations 1992, Nigeria versus Cameroun (2-2) in 2000 in the Africa Cup of Nations,  Cameroun versus Nigeria (1-2) Africa Cup of Nations in 2004 just to mention a few.


As it stands, Nigeria leads Group B with six points; Cameroun is second with two points from the same number of two matches played by all the teams in the group while Zambia and Algeria lie in the third and fourth positions respectively.

The Indomitable Lions had a shaky start to their campaign and have in recent months roared back with confidence winning the Africa Cup of Nations with a blend of experience and youth and also featured in the FIFA Confederations Cup early this summer in Russia.

For Gernot Rorh and his team, the fate of qualification for Russia 2018 may be very tricky between September 1 and 5, 2017 especially the very grave concerns over the fitness level and lack of first team action by most of the players who have featured in the Super Eagles of recent.

When the Eagles started on a high flying note in this campaign, despite the excitement and growing confidence by fans who had started gaining more confidence with the new players, reservations had always been in the fray on the future especially at this crucial stage of the fixture where getting the best quality for the Eagles has suddenly become a great challenge.

The defeat to South Africa last month is timely and a wakeup call to the reality that we need to build a team that has a pedigree and can deliver with this herculean task beckoning on Nigeria. Winning these two legged fixture will involve all Nigerians and the Nigeria Football Federation must get all acts together to get this job done.

The psychological war towards this crunch game has started and Rorh knows that anything short of a victory in Uyo will surely spell disaster in Cameroun in the return leg and the options available to the team is win and only win to pick this sole ticket.

Qualifying for the World Cup will be the icing on the cake for the Amaju Pinnick led Nigeria Football Federation board whom have ushered some dynamics in football administration so far despite the challenges of qualifying for age grade international fixtures in recenta times.

If the team management decides to feature players yours sincerely would consider as below average and uninspiring on the field of play, then it is likely that we may have settled to start the last minute permutations of how we can qualify winning our last two matches.

We have reached a stage where invitations to the Super Eagles camp should not be on experimental basis but to feature our very best and experienced players anywhere in the world to come back home and be part of the history waiting to beckon for this country on the road to Russia 2018.

A nation of over 200million people will hope and believe, speak and pray, cheer and walk with faith that the Eagles will fly over the Lions in this double headed fixture and irrespective of the score line in Uyo, the total support for the team must also shift to Cameroun as the nation standstill to determine who remains the group leader.

Those dates could change the leadership of the group if the Eagles falter and if we fail to consolidate on our present gains and slip along the way, we may find it difficult allowing the Indomitable Lions draw close to our national team on the table as it may go down the wire.

There have been several challenges observed in the team and even the conduct of our football administrators in the run up to the last fixture against South Africa and it is left to the top guns at the Glass House to define their priorities and set targets realizing at the same time that the World Cup is the biggest stage to sell the only product that unifies our great country.

The current tour of Gernot Rorh abroad visiting our players is a welcome development and there is hope that when his team list is released soon, we would be able to see a team that will be able to give Nigerians six points in these two fixtures.

We must also see a football body that will be able to ensure discipline amongst board members in not distracting the team in camp with an array of large entourage. We must see the supporters club put her house in order and cheer the Eagles in unity to excel.

The Eagles have found a home in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State and we commend the Governor Udom Emmanuel administration for the milestones achieved so far in the renaissance in sports development in just two years, but we must not be deterred especially with our home defeat against South Africa last month. It was bad day at the market for the team.

The support base for the Eagles must start now with a massive mobilization to cheer the team to victory, mobilization will be a ninety minutes nonstop victory dance and the team must be inspired to give back for the support they will earn as always.

Despite the challenge of getting the best set of players at the moment, we must believe in our team and hope the Gernot Rorh and the Technical Committee of the Nigeria Football Federation must have a synergy that will chart the course of the success story for the Eagles and that starts with the choice of players selected.

That poor selection cost us that game against South Africa and we can make new amends and let the world realize that the Eagles are back and will parade the best set of players in the battle of the titans in those five days.

Those two dates will be milestones in our football history and we must believe that there is a need for everyone to work to ensure that we savour these days with victories. It may not come easy but the road to victory must be achieved.

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