Super Eagles, One Step, Too Many | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


Super Eagles, One Step, Too Many

Posted: Dec 11, 2015 at 4:34 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)
Super Eagles players celebrate one of their goals against Niger in Port Harcourt with Sunday Oliseh

Super Eagles players celebrate one of their goals against Niger in Port Harcourt with Sunday Oliseh

By Augustine Akhilomen

It’s unfortunate that football in Nigeria which has always been the pride and joy of football lovers in the country is gradually going down the drain considering Nigeria’s latest FIFA rankings for the last month of the year (December), where the Super Eagles sits 66th in the world and 14th in Africa.
There is no argument on why the senior national team has fallen way behind in the latest rankings going by the team’s performance at various competitions in this out-going year.
Nigeria’s failure to qualify for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea, directly or indirectly affected Nigeria’s ranking couple with their inconsistent results in international friendly matches which also serves as a coefficient for points.
The major high point for the team was their 3-0 whitewashing of Cameroon in an international friendly in Belgium, while struggling to beat teams like Niger, Swaziland, Tanzania, DR Congo and a few to mention in international competitions.
The latest ranking, which qualifies as one of the worst ever for Nigeria in recent times, saw the likes of Uganda, Panama and the United Arab Emirate (U.A.E) all ranked above the three-time African champions.
Though previously termed ‘inconsequential’, Nigeria football officials are presently keen to see the Eagles improve on the FIFA rankings as the rating will influence the draws for the final stage of the World Cup qualifiers in Africa.
As stated by the world football governing body, the December edition of the FIFA Rankings was dominated by 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia qualifiers.
Of the 137 matches taken into account for the latest ranking more than two thirds (92 games) were World Cup qualifiers; eight of the 137 games were playoff matches to determine the final four teams to qualify for EURO 2016, and the remaining 37 matches were international friendlies.
Although the Super Eagles under team’s coach, Sunday Oliseh was expected to shoot up and restore Nigeria’s glory days in football, however, an early shaky start in his reign meant the team continue from where former coach Stephen Keshi stopped while he was tinkering the national team.
It will be recalled that Nigeria’s biggest rankings was in 1994 where the team was ranked 4th in the world after the team shocked the whole world with their free-flowing football at the FIFA World Cup in USA. Being their first appearance, the Super Eagles defeated Bulgaria 3-0, lost 2-1 to ‘almighty’ Argentina before beating Greece 2-0 to qualify for the knock-out stages.  However, inexperience cost the team another defeat in the round of 16 after losing 2-1 to Italy; a situation which ended Nigeria’s fairy tale at the mundial.
With expectations still high on Nigeria’s chances of marching this feat next year, Oliseh’s quest for rebranding the senior national team will be put under scrutiny if the team fails to qualify for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon and the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Besides, the Nigeria Football Federation must ensure that they organised grade ‘A’ international friendly matches that would help to improve the team’s ranking in 2016. It is not enough to play friendly matches without considering playing some of the key nations such as Germany, France, Holland, England, Spain, Italy, Brazil, Argentina, Portugal and many more, but it is paramount to get positive result.
If Nigeria’s dwindling nature continues to persist, then the team has no choice but to face the hard way in their quest of booking a 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. With teams like Algeria, Ghana, Tunisia, Senegal, Egypt and Cameroon lying in the waiting based on their rankings, then the Super Eagles have a mountain to climb.
The next FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking will be published on 7 January 2016.