After the Black Stars of Ghana picked the World Cup qualification ticket ahead of Nigeria, much of the blame has been set towards the Nigeria Football Federation and Austin Eguavoen.
The dismissal of former coach, Gernot Rohr was met with mixed reactions, although majority of them leaned towards support for the action. The appointment of Eguavoen however saw more skepticisms than bullish confidence about Nigeria’s chances.
What became succour, yet a sort of relegated hope for majority of the fans was the talent base in the team and how they could help the country pick a ticket at least.
The 2021 AFCON in Cameroon gave an exposé into what could happen when the coast is clearer but its greatest strength was its most striking weakness.
Eguavoen’s purple patch soon wilted and the green grass failed to become the abode of excellence for players again. Many blamed his tactical ineptitude for the struggles recorded, and others recounted his many failures in the past as warning signs to what may be ahead but the NFF fumbled the opportunity in their hands and went with the rather unsure crowd.
The Super Eagles have an abundance of players, many of whom play in major European leagues but a check at each player reveals further details about their actual level.
Goalkeeper Francis Uzoho was the major culprit for Tuesday’s debacle and he had a performance he’d like to forget in quick time. The giant goalie plays in Cyprus with Omonia Nicosia and only recently started to play regularly for the club. Nigerians have very little to be overjoyed about him and his performances have risen and fallen per time.
Ola Aina has been one of the best performers in the team since 2021 and has been a delight to see when he charges from the right. While he struggled with his pace sometimes against Ghana, and with overconfidence also a problem, he’s one of the better-rated players in the team.
You can question his quality, but you can’t fail to acknowledge the positive spirit William Troost-Ekong shows all the time, especially in a Nigerian shirt. His ratings are just as they come. No hype, no fuss, little disrespect.
The Watford defender’s central defensive partner Leon Balogun has an impressive character. His focus is undeniable and his efforts and desire are never questionable. Against Ghana, he laid it down but lost at the end.
Victor Osimhen is everything for Nigerian football. He’s a possible future captain of the Super Eagles and a real driver for people who have the attitude. His desire to win always sets him out and he’s rising to become an impeccable attacker. All these, Nigerians acknowledge but Osimhen is yet to fully register his name and play a good part in a major tournament.
He was the last person to leave the pitch against Ghana and embodied the pain and mood of the fans throughout. His urge to win is immense and if he found himself where players sense and understand impact, he would be flying to Qatar too.
Some Super Eagles players have been accused of not turning up when they play for Nigeria, but shine at their clubs.
On Tuesday, many played like the World Cup wasn’t enough to labour for.
Moses Simon was brilliant at the AFCON but in both legs against Ghana, he struggled to make any impact of note. The winger however churns out good displays consistently in Ligue 1.
The expectations of Nigerians on the Super Eagles was premised on love for country, comparison to other African countries and what they see them do at their clubs.
While it may be unfair and dismissive to say they’re overrated, considering they’ve shown good fire with their clubs on some rainy days, it’s absolutely undeniable that they fail to raise the bar in the colours of the Super Eagles on the days they’re needed.