A look at the Super Eagles 2018 World Cup programme

By Daily Sports on January 22, 2018

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Without much ado, we have all seen the ongoing CHAN championship in Morocco. It has not been that easy for even the supposedly grade A teams. If anything, it has shown there’s improved football development in Africa. The minnows are unrelenting and so far have been up and doing, showing grit and putting pepper into the eyes of their big brothers.

I did say in the last edition of this column that the gap between traditional football nations and those regarded as minnows is closing dramatically such that the powerful football nations in this CHAN must be vigilant and also be wary of the so called minnows in their groups if they must avoid upset.

We have already recorded some upsets – Namibia against Ivory Coast. Cameroon got its nose bruised; and Nigeria was held hostage by Rwanda. And in her second game against Libya the West African giants managed a one goal win over the North Africans who mounted spirited resistance to see if they could make good, their technical adviser’s boast to qualify for the quarter-finals at the expense of the Eagles.

Lest we forget, Argentina mocked Nigeria after their barren draw against the highly technical Rwandan side. Let us call a spade by its name. The Eagles are truly struggling to find their feet in the current CHAN. The team has relied heavily on its vast exposure to hold its head above obvious turbulent waves. If you watched them against Rwanda, and even the battle against Libya, it was experience that saw them through when the bench slumped into drabness.

I am still at a loss to pinpoint where the technical and tactical knowhow of Salisu Yusuf has impacted on the team so far. The Super Eagles assistant coach is known for his loud mouth.

I recalled in the last write up that the CHAN Eagles handler boasted before they jetted out - that his team would beat its counterparts in the group and then take it from there.

His system of play in the two games was colourless, undefined and devastating. Thank God we met the countries that still have some level of respect for the Nigerian side, otherwise...

We saw many unpardonable misses by both countries that played the Eagles. We saw that respect there. That was the saving grace for Yusuf who is adjudged one of the best indigenous coaches. Recall that he went for the interview for the then vacant position of the Super Eagles Technical Adviser, despite the resolution of the NFF President, Amaju Pinnick that he was not interested in local coaches. Yusuf is yet to justify the confidence reposed in him by his employers.

Well, this write-up is not on Yusuf but would rather suggest to the NFF to draft the Franco Germany technical hand Gernot Rohr on a rescue mission if Nigeria must get a reasonable prize at the CHAN championship. This would serve as a prelude to the bigger one coming up in Russia from June 14. Nigerians need such a boost but we doubt Yusuf‘s capacity to deliver. Rohr should be there in Rabat, Morocco to give a helping hand, and to give them hope, otherwise if the team manages to survive the fireworks from Equatorial Guinean in her last group game and enters the knock out stage, they may not have a good story to tell.

This CHAN Eagles team needs a father figure like Rohr. There I rest this for now.      

This week we want to X-ray the programme of the Super Eagles to Russia 2018 World Cup summit as released by the NFF last week. It is already in the public domain that the Nigerian team will begin her Mundial camping on May 22 and the tournament will kick off June 14.

The programme of the squad was released in Lagos last week Wednesday by the NFF’s First Vice President, Seyi Akinwunmi. It was a comprehensive one that included series of friendly matches and the exhibition including friendly against Congo on May 28, to be played in Abuja for Nigerians to catch a glimpse of their team to the most famous sport in the globe where only qualified countries parade their best. The timetable, one must say is sound reasoning by the Pinnick-led NFF.

Daily Sports, like its counterparts, went to town and hailed the move. It is nice and we are watching keenly. The NFF chose London as venue to unveil the special kits of the team for the Mundial on February 7. I faulted the idea of unveiling the kits outside the country but quickly dropped the gun and concluded that if that strategy would ensure concentration and good results for the three time African Champions at the World Cup so be it.

Again, this is not the time for fault finding or blame game. It is time for intelligence gathering, building, preparations, final dotting of the i’s and crossing of the t’s for the anticipated sterling performance of the Nigerian team at the World Cup.  

Already, Rohr has revealed that his major headache for now is how to qualify at the group stage. You can deduce that the Franco-Germany handler knows what he is doing. He is taking one step after the other and he will build same into his boys. The harmony would be there between the technical crew and the players. He would be praying he finds such formula that guided them during the qualifiers.

What he will try to guard against is intruders that are already all over him with bags full of hard currencies wanting their players into the World Cup party even for the fun of it.

He must be extra careful even about his employers, the NFF. The same body that has been working hard to ensure that the team performs beyond expectations at this Mundial is also in the business of rocking the boat. It has been NFF’s trade mark from time past. Only the firmest of its former technical hands stood up and said no to such nonsensical overtures. Honestly, that is the dilemma Rohr would find or already finds himself in.

He should remember where he is coming from and the kind of hard work, dedication, determination and diligence he deployed to duty that saw him and his lads come thus far. He must stand up and say no where necessary as a “stitch in time,” they say, “saves nine.” World Cup is not for the boys or the unfit. It is purely for the best a country can afford. Nigeria won’t be an exception.

Incidentally the Super Eagles team is populated by average players but largely experienced and determined as a team to take on any super star studded side that comes their way.  The team is resolute, hence it subdued every opponent that came its way during the African qualifying series, even in the so called group of death where even bookmakers didn't give it a chance of qualification. All eyes were on Cameroon and Algeria but the Super Eagles with their ever proactive handler planned the coup de grace and got the sole ticket from the group even before the group’s game was concluded.

Rohr knows his boys inside out and would not do otherwise. He would like to perform better to enhance his credentials as a World Cup coach, which would make him attractive to other countries. He cannot afford to allow vested interests to spoil his hard earned qualification to the Mundial. It is a rare and life time opportunity for coaches. Many want to be there but have not found the chance of leading a team to that choice global congregation of best football countries and players.

Rohr and NFF have been able to secure grade A friendly tune up matches that will knock Super Eagles into shape and also give him the opportunity to correct identified errors before the whistle for the World Cup kick-off is blown. It will also give him first hand assessment of the kind of team he is going to parade at the tournament where only the fittest survive.

If you missed the World Cup programme of the Super Eagles as unveiled by NFF’s Akinwunmi last Wednesday, here it is. Enjoy…  

Russia 2018: Super Eagles to begin camping May 22

The Nigeria Football Federation has reeled out the itinerary for the Super Eagles ahead of the Russia 2018 World Cup.

The First Vice-president of the NFF, Seyi Akinwunmi, said in Lagos on Wednesday that Nigeria’s World Cup training camp will open on May 22 in Abuja.

He, however, revealed that the country’s special kits for the Mundial in Russia will be presented to the public on February 7 in London.

It was disclosed that the Super Eagles will be engaged in a friendly against Congo on May 28 in Abuja with officials expecting Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari to be in attendance.

The team is then scheduled to fly out to England, where they will take on the Three Lions at Wembley on June 2, before they head off to Austria for a final friendly against the Czech Republic.

Before then, on March 23, the Super Eagles will be hosted by Poland in an international friendly in preparation for Russia 2018.

Four days later (March 27), the 2013 African champions will play another friendly against Serbia in London.

Rohr has spoken of his delight to see the Super Eagles start their world cup preparation on the home front. He told journalists attending the CHAN tournament in Morocco, that it would be nice to spend some of the camping money in Nigeria to benefit Nigerians.

“I wish we start our preparations for the World Cup in our country, we should spend the first money for camping in our country and for Nigerian people. To say goodbye to our fans and for them to wish the team good luck in Russia,” he submitted.

New Sponsors

Meanwhile, Super Eagles now have an official soft drink ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup has really brought good times to the Nigeria national teams with corporate organisations identifying with the Russia-bound team.

On Wednesday, the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, signed a partnership deal with soft drink giant Coca-Cola for the Super Eagles, and by extension all national teams.

The deal is worth N1.4 billion ($4 million) for a five-year period. The partnership now makes Coca-Cola the official soft drink of all the NFF properties.

Super Eagles will play against Croatia in her first game at the 2018 World Cup on June 16 before they go on to face Iceland and Argentina in the other group encounters.

Meanwhile, NFF and insurance giant, WAPIC Insurance signed partnership at the close of last week also making the later the official Insurance Company of the Super Eagles. The five-year deal according Seyi Akinwunmi came off the background that WAPIC was the first corporate concern to pay the salary of Super Eagles supremo, Gernot Rohr, which he described as ‘Partnership that Works’.

It is believed that many companies will come in to support the spirited bid to encourage the team for great showing ever at the Mundial. All has pointed to very essential aspect in relation to all the multi millions pounds, dollars and naira the football House would be raking into its coffers as the World Cup gathers momentum.

Transparency and accountability, close watchers of NFF insist, must be followed to the letter. However, fact is that much billions would be into the accounts of the apex football governing body. Nigerians want it properly distributed to relevant areas that would touch the Super Eagles World Cup placing at the end of the day. Funds won’t pose a problem rather how best and prudent way to disburse them to touch sensitive ends.

As we keep our fingers crossed watching and advancing suggestions, let’s discuss the subject further on Twitter, WhatsApp, LinkedIn and Facebook. Our promise to dear reader is that we won’t close our eyes from digging deep and bringing to the public domain all facts and figures as it affects Super Eagles World Cup 2018 preparations. We are on top of it via our usual credible insiders. Keep shooting hard, till next week!

Source Daily Sports

Posted January 22, 2018

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