|Ugly scenes as fans clamp down on infrastructure at the MKO Stadium in Abuja after Nigeria's 1-1 draw against Ghana on Tuesday night. (Photo credit: Getty Images)|
The Super Eagles broke the heart of every Nigerian on Tuesday night at the MKO Stadium in Abuja where they played out a damaging 1-1 draw against Ghana in their final World Cup qualifying game.
It’s no longer news that Nigeria will be missing the World Cup for the second time since first appearing at the USA 94 edition where the country made a huge mark with a round of 16 berth, it is imperative however, to examine why the team failed and the way forward for Nigerian football.
It’s déjà vu with the 2006 edition that the country missed out on, an avalanche of top talents that won’t have the opportunity of mixing it with global talents at the FIFA World Cup, you look at the boys that were finally coopt into the team and you wonder where they go from here.
The Super Eagles went into the game on Tuesday as clear favorites. On paper and on the grounds of the quality of players in each squads, you’d be tempted to hand Nigeria the ticket even before kicking the ball but as always, football knows how to shock the best of pundits and bookmakers.
Coach Austin Egauvoen bowed to pressure and dumped his initial wing play, favoring a midfield trio that was expected to stabilize possession and connect with the attack brilliantly; Etebo, Joe Aribo and Frank Onyeka didn’t live up to that expectation.
Emmanuel Dennis and Ademola Lookman were fresh breath but none of the two gave the fans the joy they came to experience. The tactical deficiency of the manager became obvious with his panic substitutions, he didn’t read the game, and he just wanted to get attackers on.
The Ghanaians left spaces behind for Nigeria to exploit, long balls to Victor Osimhen was the only game plan from the midfield and it was quite easy for the Black Stars to crowd him out, the predictability meant Ghana only conceded two shots on target.
The goalkeeping department has always been a problem. Maduka Okoye may be having a stellar season at Sparta Rotterdam, he is yet to convince Nigerians that he deserves the number one spot, the less said about Francis Uzoho the better.
The violence that followed the World Cup miss could have been avoided by a solid security setup, it was always inevitable considering the mindlessness around, and why didn’t the security operatives envisage it? Couldn’t they have put measures in place to disperse the crowd earlier?
There are unconfirmed reports that a CAF Official lost his life in the process, if that comes back to be the truth, investigations and bans would follow and does that bode well for a footballing nation like Nigeria?
Where does Nigeria football go from here? When it’s time for the best in the World to come together to mix it in Qatar, Nigerians would have no choice than to adopt other nations, it would hurt more then but the big question is: Where do we go from here?