13.1 C
New York
Monday, May 20, 2024

What Has Happened To The Super Eagles?

Must read

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]here was a time when the Super Eagles were feared across the world. Nigeria has always been one of the best African teams in football, but things have gone very wrong in recent years. Not qualifying for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar was the last straw for many fans and pundits.

The Vegas sportsbooks will now have fairly long odds on the Super Eagles winning the next AFCON or even making it to the World Cup in the US, Canada and Mexico in three years’ time. But who is to blame for the downturn? And how can the team improve to get back to where they once were?

The State of Play

The end of 2022 was a miserable time for Nigerian football fans. There was a World Cup coming up that their team was to play no part in and the results in the friendlies went from bad to worse. By the time the tournament in Qatar had finished, Nigeria had dropped even further in the FIFA rankings.

After years of stability under Gernot Rohr, Nigeria played under an interim manager at AFCON and then appointed a new manager in May. Even that process was prolonged and confidence in the administrators of the game in the country seems to be at an all-time low.

Recent Results

Looking purely at matters on the pitch, 2022 was a year to forget. After progressing from the AFCON opening group, the Super Eagles fell in the first knock out round to Tunisia. That result doesn’t look as bad after the performance from the Eagles of Carthage in Qatar. But it was a step back after finishing third two years previously.

Interim manager Augustine Eguavoen stepped aside after AFCON and Jose Peseiro took over head coach duties. He was unable to lead the team to victory in two friendlies in the US in the summer, but has overseen a positive start to the AFCON qualifying campaign. There have been some more defeats in friendlies since then, however.

Who is to Blame?

There is always much hand-wringing every time the Super Eagles falter in qualifying for major competitions. But the situation did seem to get very bad last year. Being knocked out in the World Cup play-off round by Ghana after a goalless draw in Accra in the first leg seemed to sum up the way the game has gone in Nigeria recently.

Many fans pointed to the inept administration of the game in the country. A lot was said about the need for a developmental culture, rather than a tournament culture, suggesting that more needs to be done at a grassroots level for the elite players and team to succeed.

Lifting the World Cup seems as far away as it has ever been
Lifting the World Cup seems as far away as it has ever been

What Happens Next?

Now we must put our faith in Jose Peseiro. After initially thinking he would be able to oversee the last AFCON campaign, he is now charged with taking the Super Eagles to the tournament in the Ivory Coast at the start of next year. A relatively kind qualifying draw should make that possible. But Nigeria have missed out on two of the last four championships.

Peseiro’s last appointment was as the Venezuela national team head coach and he did seem to do a very good job there, developing what has historically been the weakest of the South American nations. If he can take Nigeria far into the next AFCON there will be a feeling that World Cup 2026 qualification is possible, especially considering there will be more berths for African sides.

Can Nigeria Return to the Top?

It may be a while back now, but Nigeria burst onto the international stage with the Olympics triumph in 1996 and are considered to be one of the best teams in Africa. The fact that they have failed to do well at tournaments – or qualify at all – in the last few years confuses football fans outside the continent.

There are obviously the players available to put Nigeria back in the higher echelons of world football. Victor Osimhen is just one example – if he was able to put together a string of appearances. The opportunity seems to be there for the Super Eagles – it just depends on whether Jose Peseiro can overcome the way the game is run in Nigeria and concentrate on the way the game is played on the pitch.

More articles

- Advertisement -The Fast Track to Earning Income as a Publisher
- Advertisement -The Fast Track to Earning Income as a Publisher
- Advertisement -Top 20 Blogs Lifestyle

Latest article