AFCON 2023: Super Eagles Under Pressure?

By Victor Enyinnaya on January 8, 2024

Freezing heights by Nigerian football fans are reaching optimum, as the date for the kick- off of the Africa Cup of Nations Football summit in Cote D’ Ivoire draws near.  Fans of various segments are thoroughly discussing and analyzing in-depth and presently, it has become talk of the town amongst fans on their idol team, Super Eagles.

Even the bookmakers are not left out in this exercise as the “to be or not to be” of the -three- time winners of the most prestigious football trophy in the continent contest gets set.

It would be recalled that Nigeria is drawn in group A against hosts Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea and Guinea Bissau. Note that two teams would qualify from each group to the next round, and Nigeria will start things up against Equatorial Guinea January 14 and four days later Super Eagles would try for size the Elephants of Cote D’ Ivoire in star game of the group A.

Needless to emphasis here that old football rivalries between the two old war horses (Nigeria/ Ivory Coast) would be keenly rekindled as every space would strongly be contested for.  Pundits are of the opinion that the group game will be tough and would have the trappings of a first rate football match of wits and brawns.

Truly on paper, it promises to be one hell of a game where both technical benches would deep into their wealth of experience to undo one another. It ought to be a highly technical and tactical match plan, where even the fittest would find it extremely difficult to have upper hand, so it used to be.  However, I would not vividly say the depth of Ivoirian team presently. 

Much water has passed under the bridges of most African countries national teams, Nigeria being the chief.  For instance, Super Eagles team has gone through lots of backwardness of late.  Such developments within the team have obviously given fans and other stakeholders headaches of all sorts and little hope on the team, as the championship gets set in Ivory Coast later this Month.

Super Eagles squad still witnesses many defects in the area of high quality and performing players, as its technical advisory capacity is near zero.  One must point out that despite the fact there is several optimism here and there, many still believe that it is like building ones hope on the false castle. They argue that key performance indicators are lacking in the present Super Eagles team to 2024 AFCON in Ivory Coast.  

All eyes on the Eagles, as much are being expected from the team. Nigeria’s age long fire-brigade approache in major championships have taken the centre stage. We have seen many advocacy groups being sponsored to draw support for the team.  To that effect, the Presidency has just settled all disputes amongst the warring parties that may pose distractions for the team.  For instance, the Presidency has settled all outstanding financial matters the NFF owed the players and the technical crew alike.  On paper, it is great stride but how far that can work miracles for the team, keen and close observers are watching.

The big questions on the lips of many are is Super Eagles under pressure?  With the goings on, much are being expected from the team. But few cared to ask what the capacities of players in the team are. Nigeria will be lining up the current Africa Footballer of the Year, Victor Oshinmen.  A thorough boast no doubt, but what can that lone star do?   We keep watching closely.

Let us also hope that the clearance of backlog of salaries and allowances of the players and technical crew by the Presidency would motivate the team enough to do better starting from their first game on January 14, against Equatorial Guinea.  It further said that with all these soul lifting actions by the Presidency, there leaves a glimmer of hope that the players and technical crew would fly higher.  However, the other school of thought still insists that you don’t give what you don’t have therefore, the Nigerians have not much to flaunt in the upcoming tournament as football is no mathematics. Fans will always enjoy fine football displays with good results and would clap even to high heavens.

This is not to say that the Nigerian team is totally written off, no, the boys will get on, if they look back to what the government has done thus far. The fear remains on the capacity of the team. The side is made up wholly of green horns, who may lack experiences in high profile championship like AFCON. One is eagerly waiting to see how Jose Peseiro and crew would effectively manage this successfully.

All the teams in the championship are there to win the trophy and would never be in the business of experiment, but real action of football and winning it too.  This is wishing the team well as it gears up for the impending confrontation in group A where every game is important.

In short the sad memories of 2013 edition hosted by South Africa will be written at both the front and back minds of Ivory Coast players as they enter that theatre of war of “now or never” game. The match for prestige, name and sundry would be witnessed and foremost, it will be one game that would not only determine the direction of the group but define where the pendulum of the entire championship would swing to larger extent, as other football power countries square up against each other for supremacy.     

As the day draws, Daily Sports wish the Super Eagles great success but must be ready to fight assiduously for the trophy for the fourth time.

 We keep our fingers crossed as we keep shooting hard till next week. Meanwhile we wait!!



















Source Daily Sports Nigeria

Posted January 8, 2024


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