The journey of the Super Eagles of Nigeria in Russia began on a hopeful note of possibly surpassing the round of sixteen which hitherto has been our biggest achievement at this stage came to an abrupt end.
Having lost her opening match against, Croatia, and defeating Iceland in the second game, Nigeria was primed for qualification with just a point from its third game.
However, that was not to be as we lost to our perennial world cup foes, Argentina. Opinions were divided on why and how Nigeria lost the game.
As is always the culture when a team fails, the blame game comes up. Many football fans and analyst have apportioned blame to the technical crew, while some others have outlined some players as culprits in the game.
However, in my opinion, I think what we had a lot of positives to build on between now and the next world cup in Qatar 2022.
For the Super Eagles coach, Gernat Rohr, his team was on an experience-gathering mission at the World Cup in Russia.
He had impressed it on every heart that his team would be ready by 2022. Based on this, what then can we take away from our participation at Russia 2018?
A young Team: Based on statistics, Nigeria had the youngest squad at this world cup. In the Nigerian team, we have a young group of players who showed they have the heart to go to battle. It is hoped that they would step up their game to the level in which they would be competing at the highest level in the competitive leagues they find themselves. From all indications, the world cup is the believed to be for the matured.
Organization: This world cup went down in history as one competition Nigeria participated in and there wasn’t any disagreement about money, bonuses and other sundry issues. Though everything could not be an aid to be perfect, it was a marked improvement over the years. We expect that the improved organization seen at the world cup from the administrative side could be translated to the team and everything that surrounds it.
Preparations: Our preparation for this world cup might not have been perfect but it was an improvement over the previous editions we have been to. Since we now have the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers coming up in September, Nigerians would expect that in going forward our preparations for the qualifiers would witness improved preparations.
The pool of Talented Players: Apart from the players who made it to Russia, there is an avalanche of players who could come into the team to make it better and stronger. The Super Eagles team that played against Athletico Madrid in a friendly before the world cup is a testament to this.
The immediate task before the football federation and the Super Eagles team would be put to good use the experience garnered from the world cup in ensuring they qualify for the AFCON, and then possibly go on to win it. By then Nigerian’s would start believing again that the team is focused on doing well at Qatar 2022.
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