Russia 2018 World Cup: My fears for Nigeria — Primate Ayodele

By Daily Sports on May 8, 2018

Primate Babatunde Elijah Ayodele (JP) is the Leader and Spiritual head of INRI Evangelical Spiritual Church, INRI Prosperity Estate, Primate Ayodele Crescent, Oke-Afa, Ejigbo, Lagos. A round-the-clock-busy minister and believer in the promises of the Most High God, the cleric selflessly worked assiduously at the background for the qualification of the Super Eagles in the forthcoming Russia 2018 World Cup. The primate said he rarely speaks to the press, and only does so when led by the Spirit. Naturally, this exclusive encounter falls into that category as Daily Sports Managing Editor, VICTOR ENYINNAYA, was privileged to get his attention after several attempts. It’s a must-read for both football lovers and administrators, as it touches on several aspects of Super Eagles’ fortunes in the Russia 2018 Mundial.

What are the chances of the Nigerian flag-bearers in the Russia 2018 World Cup tournament?

The chances are there if those entrusted with the responsibilities of seeing that project through do their home work very well. The issues involved are beyond the surface. The leadership of the NFF (Nigerian Football Federation) must be humble and work with the overall genuine interest of bodies and individuals that want to voluntarily partner (with them) for the love of country and the game, for the success of the Super Eagles in the global football summit. Like it was done during the qualifiers, such window should be encouraged to open again. It is nobody’s project but Nigeria’s. If only Amaju Pinnick would hearken to the voice of reason and allow things to take its full course, our team will – like during the qualifiers where nobody gave it a chance of qualification – do better than our previous outings.

I will also suggest that the leadership of the NFF should revert to the US 1994 World Cup jersey, because colour matters a lot in our daily activities. Fact is that the current colour the Nigerian side is using has some contradicting, far-reaching implications, and must be looked into accordingly. If all hands are on deck, the country will overcome its group challenges and then take it from there.

The whole process of Russia 2018 World Cup tournament must revolve around authenticity and earnestness of purpose. The era of godfather or where players’ agents bribe to put their unfit players into the final list of the team must be nipped in the bud. There should be no shoddy deal in the selection of the final list of players that will wear our colours in Russia football encounter. If that first step is got right, then Russia here we come. The players are ready to give out their best, if they will not be short-changed like the aged practice.

As I did say, if the technical crew is not put under undue pressure and interference, it will enable him to think outside the box and give his best to the country. Right now, there are so many vested interests trying to smuggle their players into the team, which will prove counter-productive if allowed to take place at the end of the day. The only option open for Nigeria is to do things the right way and manner never before this time. It is doable if those concerned want a clear departure from the ugly past.

Super Eagles will qualify from their group with lots of hard work and concentration. There will be no dull moment as teams will renew their efforts to outwit each other. The NFF leadership as presently constituted is arrogant, but must insist that only equity prevails in the final selection of players. Those players that paid their dues in ensuring they honour invitations for the qualifiers and are still in top form must not be ignored. No amount of money or influence should be allowed to creep into this year’s World Cup team final selection. I maintain that if that aspect is carefully tackled, spiced with prompt payment of their dues, nothing would stand between the players and performance.

Will you say preparations as released by the NFF for the Super Eagles are solid enough to put the boys in great shape for the event?

I will continue to drum it into the ears of the fans, stakeholders and administrators, that there is no level of preparation programme the NFF will put forward without holistic selection of players purely on merit to make the team that would stand the test of time. The antidote is ensuring that a round peg is put in a round hole. If such is strictly adhered to, only then that whatever grade in a game will make any sense, meaning or create far-reaching effect that will toughen and also instill confidence in the young team. The present state of the team shows it is not yet a done deal on the Super Eagles for the World Cup. It is why I want the executive committee of the NFF to come to the level of the team. That is when everything will make meaning when everyone in this project is on the same page.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that the grade A games lined up for the squad is a waste, no; but what I have been hammering on is that right things must take the front burner, because the team and its crew have some good measure of commitment and potential to turn things around, if properly supported and urged on too. This year’s World Cup preparations looks as if it is the best so far compared to our previous ones. It is part of what I’m saying that since it seems as if we have woken up from long deep slumber, it will be right if we endeavour to do things right for the first time in final players’ selection process, because it is key. Things would look up through such direction.

Many have expressed deep concern over our team peopled mostly with average players, which may likely hinder it from going too far in the championship. What is your take?

We all agreed that level of football in Super Eagles cadre is not meant for the boys, neither is it a learning ground. It is for the ready-made. It is only for the best and fittest. It is where the best legs in the round leather game exhibit their talents. Countries parade their superiority. Above are some of the attributes of the World Cup. Presently, Nigeria cannot boast of such credentials. However, the boys Nigeria will parade are ball jugglers that are too hungry for results. It is my belief that the experienced among them will make up for the pitfalls. The Nigerian side is a mixture of players. The thing you may not take away from them is energy, due to their youthful nature. You equally can attest that even team captain, John Mikel Obi who, incidentally, happens to be the oldest player in Russia 2018 team, has good measure of speed, fantastic recovery, intelligent, command and energy to spur the younger teammates to action. Obi’s communication skills on the field of play have been excellent and commendable too.

The Technical Adviser and the lads seem to have struck a chord, to perform against all odds. As I did say, in as much as experience and maturity count very much in the World Cup, we should not write off the Super Eagles team. Once we select players based on current form and equity, nothing will stop them from reaching the level the Most High God destined for them. Nigeria is not an under-dog in the tournament, Again, what will propel this set of Super Eagles to great action stems from the fact that all the players are hungry for honour and to announce their arrival. The team also has resilient spirit, which is its never-say-die nature. I know there is extent to which these carry a team, but when there is a will, there must be a way.

Let them be totally encouraged. The average Team Nigeria member taken to Russia may turn out to write his name in gold at the end of the day. Let NFF and the technical crew put its house in order first. Once the scandals of the past are fully and honestly taken care of, there and then, Nigerians will heave a sigh of relief. All we are doing for this impending Russia 2018 World Cup must be woven around prayer, because no man can achieve any meaningful thing without the full backing of the Most High God. God help Nigeria!

Sir, what are your fears, generally, concerning Russia 2018 World Cup?

That is an intelligent question. We should pray that there will be no form of protest in Russia during the period of the World Cup, because it will be dangerous. Such incident should also not be around the venue of the games. The air in Russia is tense and all hands must be on deck in asking the Most High God to have mercy and prevent such from happening; because of millions of innocent visitors the country would be hosting for the World Cup. The likelihood of such is eminent, unless we engage in serious prayer for it to be totally averted. That is the only cloud hanging around Russia as a country presently, and it can be averted through solemn prayer sessions. Let us keep our fingers crossed as the build-up and feverish nature of the World Cup continues to excite.

•Photo shows Primate Babatunde Elijah Ayodele (JP)

Source Daily Sports

Posted May 8, 2018


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