2018 W’Cup: Can Nigeria Survive Group Of Death? | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


2018 W’Cup: Can Nigeria Survive Group Of Death?

Posted: Jun 25, 2016 at 3:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Peter edema
Lagos – There is nothing that gets one-a football fan for that matter- excited as the FIFA World Cup.
Nigerian football fans, therefore, must have waited with bated breath for the 2018 World Cup qualifying group stage draws that held in Cairo on Friday.
And when it all ended, Nigerians must have developed nightmare believing that this must be a dream. But it’s not. The country was drawn in group B, arguably the group of death- a group that has Cameroon, Algeria and Zambia.
Zambia is the only team in the group yet to qualify for the World Cup. Nigeria, Cameroon and Algeria shared 16 World Cup appearances among themselves. Cameroon are the most successful of the trio, having represented the continent seven times (1982, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2002, 2010, 2014), Nigeria five times (1994, 1998, 2002, 2010, 2014) and Algeria four times (1982, 1986, 2010, 2014).
One of the implications of the draw is that, two of the teams that qualified for the last two editions of the World Cup, have been ruled out, if possible three, should Zambia pick the group ticket.
It should be noted that all the group B teams have at one time or the other won the Africa Cup of Nations -Algeria (1), Zambia (1), Nigeria (3) and Cameroon (4).
Can Super Eagles survive this group and pick the group’s sole World Cup ticket? A team that failed to qualify for the last edition of the Africa Cup of Nations (2015) and the next edition holding next year cannot be tipped as the group favourites.
Should the Super Eagles be written off? Of course no. For anyone that does so, did so at his own peril. This is because, the Super Eagles are capable of springing surprises and do the impossible, and for example, winning the 2013 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations was a clear example, when nobody gave Nigeria any chance.
However, the World Cup is a different ball game altogether. It requires adequate preparation.
For a team to qualify from this group, it must not only win all its three home matches, but must win two away matches. With Super Eagles not known for winning away games, here the problem lies.
“It is good that Nigeria is drawn in such a tough looking group. It will make the Eagles sit and not be complacency,” said Kaycee Inyachukwu in his comment on Goal.com.
“Sorry Nigeria, that’s a nightmare group. But, at least you got some amazing games coming up. For me that’s as exciting as a World Cup group itself,” said Ignat Manjoo on Goal.com.
Cameroon and Algeria are teams that have at one time or the other gave Nigeria tough games. Algeria stopped Nigeria from reaching the 1982 World Cup, while Cameroon stopped Nigeria from qualifying for the 1990 World Cup. Thrice, Cameroon denied Nigeria the Africa Cup of Nations trophy in 1984, 1988 and 2000. Algeria also did the same in 1990, beating Nigeria 1-0 in the final.
Despite that, the Super Eagles seem to be in disarray; without a substantive coach, what the team needs is adequate preparation.
Amaju Pinnick, President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) said of the draws:
“It is a tough draw, but then I have always said that you have to beat the best to get to the World Cup. Now we have the draw, we know how to prepare. The preparation has to start right now and we must make good use of every single day leading to the kick –off of the series.
“The other pools are tough as well, because for me, you can never afford to under rate any team these days. Now we must quickly sort out the issue of Head Coach and his assistants and put every other thing in place in good time.”
To Chief Adegboye Onigbinde, two times Super Eagles coach, Joe Erico, former Super Eagles assistant coach and Kojo Williams, former Chairman of the Nigeria Football Association, adequate preparation is the key.
“It all depends on how we prepare our team,” said Onigbinde on Friday.
“I have never bothered myself with the group or who are there in the group but I concentrate on getting my team prepared for the championship.
“Football is not mathematics and I do not believe in records or statistics as well as spying of opponents.
“My interest and concentration has always been to build a solid team for the championship.
“Our chances will squarely depend on how we prepare our team for the qualifying race and it rests on the technical men.”
According to him, the starting point was for the Nigeria Football Federation to get a coach for the team, saying, “They (NFF) know we need a coach.
“In the interim, the technical department takes over the team, but you know that we don’t have a functional and effective technical department, now that Shaibu Amodu is dead, it makes matter worse.
“Even after naming a substantive coach, we need to have an effective and functional technical department because this department will have to work underground with the coach,” Onigbinde said.
According to Erico, adequate preparation goes beyond naming a substantive coach.
“If you don’t prepare well, you’ve just prepared to fail. We are not that bad, it’s Nigerians that believe that they don’t have a team. We can qualify, if we put our acts together, we’ve done it before and we can do it again.
“Preparation is a very high level envelope. It takes a lot of things. Good administration, who knows what to do, how to do them and when to do them. We need to have players that are ready to fight for the nation, coaches who are ready to work harder. It’s not a tea party,” he said.
But Erico would not support hiring a foreign coach for the team. “I don’t believe in foreign coaches; we have good coaches that can do the job if treated well and respected; if given 10 per cent of what is given to foreigners. When Stephen Keshi was here, we did not like him, we wanted him dead, and now he is dead. He was rated one of the best African coaches by FIFA,” Erico noted.
Kojo Williams advised that the country should start rebuilding the team now.
“The state of our football is very sad. We shouldn’t expect too much. We should rebuild our national team. If we rebuild the team, we will excel. Fire brigade won’t help us.”
Christian Chukwu, former Super Eagles captain and coach, said that the team stands equal chance of qualifying for the World Cup as the others.
He claimed that the Eagles are not weak as people think, believing that early preparation and good players’ selection was the key.
“Why not? We stand a very big chance to qualify likewise others but all depends on our level of preparations. If we prepare very well, we have a very young team that can qualify us from the group,” Chukwu told Goal.
“Though they are not pushovers, but the truth is that the way we are talking about them is also the same way they would be having sleepless nights because of us.
“They are very afraid of us and another thing that gives us an advantage is that they would be playing at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations while we will not, which gives us plenty time to get ready and be focused.
Garba Lawal, former Eagles midfielder, said, “It will be very, very tough, but I like the draw because we now know we have to prepare very well for the task ahead.
“In our playing days, we looked forward to coming up against the best teams and players because we wanted to test ourselves. I expect the current team to also relish playing in this qualifying group.”
Aside group B, group A has Tunisia, Libya, Congo DR and Guinea. Group C teams are Gabon, Mali, Cote d’ Ivoire and Morocco. Group D teams are Senegal, South Africa, Burkina Faso and Cape Verde. Group E teams are Ghana, Egypt, Congo Brazzaville and Uganda.