10th December, 2013
Before the 2014 FIFA World Cup draw was held last Friday at the Costa do Sauípe in Salvador, Brazil, soccer loving Nigerians who had been praying for a fair group were relieved when their darling Super Eagles were drew in Group F along with two time world champions, Argentina, Iran and first timer, Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Nigeria, who were the first African side to qualify for the finals of the global soccer showpiece in Brazil, will play their opening match against Iran in Curitiba on 16 June, 2014 before taking on the newcomers, Bosina Herzegovina in the second match and Argentina in the final group match.
Many soccer loving Nigerians who have been following the success of the Eagles under Coach Stephen Keshi at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations which was held in South Africa and how successful they prosecuted the qualifying series of the World Cup were of the opinion that the Nigerian senior team are in an easy group and they will have good outing in next year’s FIFA World Cup.
The performance of the Eagles at the last Africa Cup of Nations, FIFA World Cup qualifiers and recent international friendly match against Italy gave soccer pundits confidence that their Eagles will not only qualify for the Round of 16 of the World Cup, they will also go far and possibly play in the semi final of the Mundial in Brazil next year.
After the draw, Head coach of the Eagles, Keshi, who was a member of the Nigerian side that lost 1-2 to the South Americans, Argentina in 1994 World Cup in USA believes thing will be different this time around. But Keshi was quick to confess that he knew nothing about the other two group’s opponents, Iran and Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Nigeria had appeared four times at the FIFA World Cup and the highest stage the three time Africa champions reached was the second round. Nigeria had a worse outing in the last World Cup in South Africa as the Eagles failed to go beyond the first round.
The past outings of the Eagles should be a lesson for Coach Keshi and the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, as the country gets set for the Brazil 2014 World Cup.
Shoddy preparation and officials’ inadequacies have been the bane of Nigeria’s good outing in the World Cup.
The NFF led by Alhaji Aminu Maigari recently gave Keshi free hand to choose where he will camp the team in preparation for the World Cup. The NFF should begin early preparations by organising quality friendly matches for the Eagles to keep the players fit ahead of the World Cup.
Although we still have seven months away from the World Cup, it is not too early if NFF draws a programme of action for the Keshi and his team.
Keshi should try as much as possible to invite players who are playing regularly for their clubs and not that are match rusty. Nigerians will be happy if Keshi selects good players that will represent the country in next year’s World Cup.
Keshi has made history within the period of time he became the coach of the senior national team and Nigerians believe that with good preparation, commitment on the part of the players, Nigeria can shock the world in Brazil.