By now, the Super Eagles of Nigeria are expected to have tangibly put their humiliation in the hands of Madagascar behind them.
They inevitably have to forget the traumatic experience and face the future of AFCON 2019 which pitches them next against Cameroon.
This in the books is a tougher pairing than the Madagascar game. Cameroon are former champions with an intimidating AFCON profile and a historic edge over Nigeria in football duels.
But the saturday game is also not only about the history between the two sides just like the Madagascar game was not,in fact it defeated history comprehensively.
Histories about football are RESULTS and PEDIGREE. Results are dynamic while pedigree is somewhat organic. This is the nature of the game that the crop of players who have been wearing Super Eagles jersies in the past 20 years failed and continue failing to internalise.
This is the feeling and understanding that pervade minds of players who succeed in wearing the senior national team jersies of countries like Brazil, Germany, France, Argentina or Italy in any engagement.
It is almost a suicidal feeling,nationalistic and full of pride. A feeling they defend and express wholeheartedly. That is why players of these countries sometimes cry when their national anthems are played before matches.
The vagaries of the Nigerian life and its football administration and management may always not fire our players to express such feelings. Not even in other areas of the Nigerian life as well do you find such feeling. This is another matter entirely.
But what can’t be avoided should remain constant. Pride,honour and appreciation to express with a sense of dedication being found worthy to represent your fatherland especially in football which is another religion in the land.
“I suggest the NFF should regularly play videos of matches of the Eagles of the 80s and the 90s,and why not,of the early periods of year 2000 to the current generations of our national teams,from under 17 to the Super Eagles whenever they gather for games.
Historic games especially, big battles and small ones,how they were fought with steel determination and a sense of duty.“ Biodun Alabi, a reputable sport journalist opined .
I remember how the Eagles of yesteryears dismissed stubborn and tough opponents not only at the old national stadium in Lagos, but even on away soils. Nigeria once annihilated Burkina Faso in Lagos 7-1 and Algeria 5-2 on the North Africans’soil.
Times have changed,the game has changed and vastly improving in every country i admit, but what should not change is the PEDIGREE of Nigeria and how new generation players see it and internalise it.
To a large extent,this is what pained most Nigerians in the tragedy of the loss to Madagascar, a country that had not scored a single goal against Nigeria in the last 50 years according to records!
When Nigeria lost the 2000 AFCON trophy to Cameroon in Lagos,the then captain, Sunday Oliseh wept on the podium receiving the runners up honours,that was against almighty Cameroon. It couldn’t have been strange if such emotion evoked after the long-blast of the whistle in the Madagascar game.
Equating the Cameroon game of next saturday with the Madagascar game is a new reality for the Eagles. It is not in the size and capacities of the two nations- one a giant, the other a minnow. It is fundamentally in the approach to the game.
Reports say the mood in camp now is that of anger at the loss to Madagascar and that of determination to make Nigerians forget the loss by eliminating Cameroon. Such feeling is nationalistic and going foward internalised in our football system.
Why not make them watch the videos of our recent and a few past victories over Cameroon in a relaxed mood on friday.
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