9th January, 2014
After winning the 29th edition of the Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON, that was held in South Africa last year, the Super Eagles of Nigeria are set for the 2014 African Nations Championship, CHAN, also holding in South Africa from 11 January to 1 February, 2014.
The home-based Super Eagles who will be making their debut at the bi-ennial tourney organised for home-based African players playing professional football in their countries of birth, are in group A alongside hosts, South Africa, Mali and Mozambique.
The Nigerian 23-man squad are already in South Africa, with the exception of the head coach, Stephen Keshi, who stayed back in the country for the Glo-CAF award holding today. The players are already gearing up for their first group match against Mali on Saturday.
Nigeria would not parade some of the country’s best at the championship because of the illegibility of Warri Wolves’ Sunday Mba and Sunshine Stars’ Godfrey Oboabona, who have both moved overseas in search of ‘Greener Pastures’ after they helped the country to secure its first qualification for the championship now in its third edition.
Hamstring injuries have also sidelined some of the notable players from the team. These are Sharks’ Yinka Adedeji and Kano Pillars’ Gambo Mohammed.
Coach Keshi had told Nigerians after their 2-1 friendly win against the Ethiopian national team at the National Stadium in Abuja last weekend not to expect miracles from the team in South Africa because of the lack of time to prepare the team and the quality of players available for him.
But football history has shown that with determination and unity of purpose, a team could rise above their pre-tournament challenges and go all the way to lift a trophy.
It is our belief that the burden is on the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, to ensure that the team is given all the necessary support as they begin another quest to bring glory to Nigeria.
In spite of all the challenges the team went through before they left for the championship, the handlers of the team should take the tourney with all seriousness. With Nigeria going to the tourney as the present African football champions, Keshi’s boys cannot afford to return without the trophy.
It is our hope that the Eagles would be able to show to the world in South Africa why the Nigerian Premier League has been ranked successively as the best football league on the African continent. Like many football-loving Nigerians, we also expect that the home-based Eagles would emulate their foreign-based counterparts and go all the way to win the CHAN trophy for the country in their maiden attempt.