RUSSIA 2018: Federal government, Sports Federation fire-brigade approach, will it continue?

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..Can the Super Eagles resist the roars of powerful teams?

By Jacqui IWU

TUE, NOVEMBER 21 2017-theG&BJournal-On the 7th of October 2017 at Godswill Akpabio Stadium in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria, the Nigeria Super Eagles beat the Zambian National team by a single goal strike, leading to their qualification for the Russia 2018 world cup.

Well I guess that’s good,  but on a humorous note, I expected more than one goal from them since Nigeria played on their soil with more home support. If you watched that game, you will agree that the Zambians gave Nigeria a run for their hospitality and money not minding despite been feted with the best cuisines in the kitchen. That goal by Arsenal’s (English Premier League) Alex Iwobi scored in the 73rd minute, when ushered in as a substitute, was one of those thrills I love about football.  The Zambians really shot most of their copper bullets but somehow, none of their bullets hit any of their targets. Maybe they should change their name to ‘golden bullets’ for better luck next time. Don’t you think? Gold is more valuable than copper huh?

Ok. The trial periods and questions have been asked and answered. So what is next Nigeria? Qualifying for a competition is one thing and beating other contestants when you get to the competition is another bowl of fish.

Some Nigerians say, well President Muhammadu Buhari was in power 1985 when Nigeria first went to the World cup successfully, hope this time his luck will see Nigerians through again. I think we should just cut all this talk of ‘luck’ and concentrate on what ought to be done and must be done before the game begins. The reasoning around ‘luck’ suggests that nobody expects the sports federation or the federal government to lay any strategic foundation towards out comes and or success for Nigeria’s team World Cup. That will be tragic because it will end up being another wasted jamboree for the officials and even the players.

I saw a comic post on Facebook some few days ago and it goes like this- Nigeria was included among the following teams, countries I personally call –‘masters of football’ – Germany, Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Portugal, Italy, France.  The comic said- if this is the group we are placed in then, there is no need wasting our transport and resources going to the world cup. Whoever posted probably guessed or read exactly what is in my mind and perhaps my topic for today.  He/she must have been thinking on same level with me knowing how the Nigeria teams always crumble when they go for global competitions due to poor and late preparations. It was actually some kind of joke but it still made huge sense.  Let us assume this same group placement happens for real and Nigeria finds itself among even two of these football dangerous teams, can they really make it considering how poor they prepare for competitions and if the preparations this time is again a replicate from the past?

You will not be surprised to hear from those in-charge of arrangements that the budget for hotel, transport, welfare, training venues etc have been released or provided for  as you are read this article and I have not heard of any arrangements in support of the team in Russia ahead of the game.  Maybe, the coaches have not even finalized the exact players to feature in the World Cup as we speak because arguments that strangely resonate when Nigeria qualifies for a global event-QUOTA SYSTEM- has begun to overshadow choice by merit. By the time we get to a week or two to the competition, you probably will hear squabbles around some strange issues fly around. And of course stories of how some foreign based player(s) could not be released for group training by his foreign coach, how the Nigeria team is stranded at the airport because the funds was released the night before their departure date, how the super eagles were disgraced out of the hotel they went to stay due to lack of proper arrangement/payment from the authority-all kinds of stories that will make you wonder how these young men will be able to get their acts together in the field of play given the enormous external pressure, tension and stress that comes from lack of proper preparation and necessary logistics that should have been put in place? You might even hear sad stories of players refusing to travel/play because their fees promised to them has not released or paid to them. That is already happening.

The NFF this week made a cynical proposal to the players that was flatly rejected and scorned by football loving Nigerians. They want to pay the players of the national team winning bonus based on the minutes they played during the qualifiers. That is not only a stupid proposal but that which smirks of the familiar-selfishness and official fraud. This type of proposal is unheard of in any part of the world.

I mean, we have seen situations in the past where the presidency, the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) officials and the Super Eagles coaches fight openly and unnecessarily too, about making full provisions for the team before travel and even when they get to their destination-Power play! They hardly understand that it is not about them, not about the political party they belong but the citizens involved and the total image of Nigeria which they put at stake with their gullible attitude.

Hopefully, this world cup in Russia will be different when it comes to being proactive by all those involved in the planning for Nigeria team. By the way, you guys will understand that Russians are very stiff when it comes to their rules and regulations. The Nigerian entourage cannot go there and want to cut corners with them. The Russian authorities will simply pack them back to Nigeria.

However, do you think or expect that the NFF and those responsible for football in this country  to do something differently and get it right this time? Leave your comment and tell us what you feel concerning super Eagles preparations for Russia 2018. Let your voice be heard!!

Jacqui IWU is a Media Communications & PR strategist|A Life &Business Coach with passion for youth and women Economic/Social Empowerment. |Twitter- |@vivantjacqui| #talkbacktobwj

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