There is a general phrase that ‘if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail,’ and unfortunately, this is the situation of the Super Eagles of Nigeria, as they look to be heading for doom at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.
The best footballing nations always have plans and realistic set goals at every major tournament, and adequate preparation always follows these plans, but in Nigeria, it feels like the word ‘preparation’ is alien to us, as we love the fire brigade approach to things.
While some countries were already in Cameroon, the Super Eagles handlers were still not sure on when to open the camp, then the camp opened, and only half of the called-up players are in camp, and the AFCON is supposed to kick-off in a few days.
The images of Sadio Mane and Edouard Mendy were all over the social media on Sunday, after they left London, two hours after the Chelsea versus Liverpool clash, to join their national team in Senegal, in preparing for the tournament in Cameroon. The same thing with Mohamed Salah and Trezeguet, but Super Eagles players are still nowhere to be found.
Captain of the Super Eagles, Ahmed Musa was in Nigeria at the weekend, but he was in Kano to ‘motivate the players,’ while the team he is expected to lead need him. Odion Ighalo played and scored for Al Shabab, but the match was on Saturday night, and he is yet to be found.
Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfred Ndidi did not play, as Leicester City’s clash against Norwich City was postponed, and even if the match was prosecuted, it was scheduled for Saturday, January first. Alex Iwobi was an unused sub in Everton’s home loss to Brighton & Hove Albion. These guys are still not with the team.
Vice-captain, William Troost-Ekong played 90 minutes for Watford against Tottenham, and the match was on Saturday. Kelechi Nwakalo also played for Huesca in their home loss.
Rangers did not play their match yet, and Joe Aribo is still not here. Only Tyronne Ebuehi has to a level a valid reason not to be available, because he is expected to feature for Venezia in their New Year match on Thursday, January sixth, and he is expected to join the team, who are expected to be in Cameroon on Wednesday, January fifth.
As much as there is no legit excuse as to why these guys are not in camp, bar Ebuehi, they had fixtures over the weekend. The real questions are, why are the other players not in camp? Where are the remaining players? Why are they not in camp? Why is there still indiscipline in the team?
Recall that the president of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Amaju Melvin Pinnick talked about his the team lacked discipline in the latter days of former technical adviser, Gernot Rohr, but with the German Gaffer gone, it looks like the indiscipline has grown a step higher. Which begs the question, what is the real problem?
Ethiopia got to Cameroon a fortnight ago, some other countries like Morocco are already in the host nation, our group opponent, Sudan – who also sacked their coach – have already started playing friendly matches, whereas the ‘Giant of Africa’ are yet to see half of their 28 invited players.
Commitment, dedication, patriotism, hunger, and discipline is the reason Sadio Mane left England for Senegal two hours after his match, why Edouard Mendy left England for Senegal two hours after his match, why Mo Salah left England for Egypt after his match, why Trezeguet waited for Salah, and they both left England together.
The Super Eagles will be going to the AFCON with 13 players, who have never played at the tournament before, Kelechi Iheanacho – who was dropped due to poor form the last time – Tyronne Ebuehi – missed out due to injury – Joe Aribo, Kelechi Nwakali, Chidera Ejuke, Sadiq Umar, Maduka Okoye, Taiwo Awoniyi, Frank Onyeka, Peter Olayinka, Zaidu Sanusi, Olisa Ndah, John Noble, and we still don’t have a full house.
With the way the team is going, it feels like there is only one plan, and that is failure, because whether you like it or not, whether you want to accept it or not, you are planning. So, if you fail to plan, it only means one thing, you are planning to fail.
As a beloved Nigerian, all we can do now is hope for a better turnout at the 2021 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon. The competition starts on the 9th of January, while Nigeria’s first match against Egypt will be on the 11th of January, 2022.