Why AFCON Is Never The Same Without Team Nigeria

  • It’s a rip-off without the Super Eagles
  • Critically, Nigeria is 2ndto Egypt per all time performance ratio

By Ediale Kingsley

When the final match of AFCON entertains on the 5thof February, Nigerians will have the options of either watching the game or seeing its own stars on another channel. Manchester City will be playing Swansea as Leicester City takes on Manchester United on that same date. And the chances are that one or more of Kelechi Iheanachor, Ahmed Musa and Wilfred Ndidi would be playing live. And that’s the reality of things that as the Nations Cup play on the soil of Africa. Nigerian players, in their lofty numbers will be active across the globe. The truth many want to shy away from is that, the AFCON isn’t truly complete without the Super Eagles. It’s like having a World cup without Brazil. The terrible story is that the stars many would rather see in Gabon 2017 are unable to make it to Gabon. They are Nigerians: Victor Moses, Mikel Obi, Kelechi Iheanachor, Alex Iwobi and the list is endless. And let’s not even talk about how Nigerians spend when they attend international events (forget about recession).

Nigeria is all time 3rdper performance level

Nigeria has participated in AFCON 17 times. Of these features, the Super Eagles played 86 games, won 46 of them, drew 21 and lost a total of 18 matches. Cumulatively scoring 123 goals, against 82 goals it has conceded all through the tournament years it participated. Doing the maths, Nigeria has 61.6 % performance ratio. Coming all time third after Egypt and Ghana who have both featured more in the AFCON games (22 and 20 respectively, with the later leading with a 62.5% performance ratio and the former coming second at 62.2%). Based on these indices, Cameroon who has won more AFCON cups with same number of participation has a performance level (59.9) lesser than Nigeria, While Ivory Coast who has more numbers of participation (21) also is yet to attain the level of performance attained by Nigeria.

So Cameroon may have won the Cup for four times, yet Nigeria is the king in terms of performance. Egypt that has won the Cup a whooping seven times is the only African Nation that clearly stands above Nigeria. Ghana may have won the Cup four times but if you consider that they last won the Cup in 1982, that clearly puts Nigeria edge above in terms of modern form .

Critically, Nigeria stands second only to Egypt. The North African country won the Cup in the era when Ghana dominated the scene between 1963 and 1982; she picked the Cup in 1986. In the Cameroon era of 1984 to 2002, Egypt picked the Cup in 1998. And that’s how it has been all through the eras, for Egypt, as they won the Cup seven times, the last time being 2010.

The Egyptians have been known for solid administrative structure and this is reflective in their FA. They have been blessed with strong character personnel and disciplined soccer management.

Super Eagles Team is more hindered by administrative and Government issues than capacity

Nigeria has missed 14 editions of AFCON since her debut in the tournament, of that number the Super Eagles were unable to qualify for seven. While it withdrew from the tournament four times, twice it did not enter for the competition and as such didn’t participate for the draws for qualification. In 1998, the nation got banned out-rightly due to actions of the then dictatorship Government. In these 14 times, Nigeria didn’t feature; the direct and remote causes were mainly tied to issues of administrations more than it were about talents or the Super Eagles capacity.

For instance, the recently squandered opportunity to qualify for this year’s AFCON was about the Nigeria Football Federation not doing what it ought to do early. Aside the fact that the then Coach of the Super Eagles, Sunday Oliseh, was simply driven by petty facts and matters. Amaju Pinnick and his team just couldn’t manage the crisis without rocking the boat. When they finally got themselves together we saw in about the same period, a completely changed team. The pack of footies who couldn’t qualify for the Nation’s Cup has suddenly started crushing the teams that comes its way on the journey to the World Cup. So, what changed?

Team Nigeria has never lacked capacity to mesmerize and perform. It has repeatedly been a management qualm.

From the Glass house power tussle to Government illiterate interference, it’s been all about pettiness and stack lack of knowledge on professional ways to handle matters affecting the team. Now, while the NFF is moaning helplessly for funds that will enable the team get the World Cup ticket done and dusted. The League Management Company has declared surplus of N483million. In a time when the Super Eagles should be basking in multiple sponsorship deals, it’s wrangling in the disgust of fund-begging from the Federal Government.

What we have since had is the NFF that sheepishly crawl to Federal Government for moneys. And at the slightest wave of the Governments hands towards decision making it crawls back woozily to FIFA or CAF, crying foul.

Once Nigeria gets its structure and direction right, the Super Eagles will not only show forth its full potential and dominance. It will be working machinery that serves as a reference point and opportunity platform for the millions of talented soccer lads across the nation.

The 14 times we missed AFCON:

  1. 1957 AFCON (Nigeria did not enter)
  2. 1959 AFCON (Did not enter)
  3. 1962 AFCON (Withdrew)
  4. 1965 AFCON (Withdrew)
  5. 1968 AFCON (Did not qualify)
  6. 1970 AFCON (Withdrew)
  7. 1972 AFCON (Did not qualify)
  8. 1974 AFCON (Did not qualify)
  9. 1986 AFCON (Did not qualify)
  10. 1996 AFCON (Withdrew)
  11. 1998 AFCON (Banned)
  12. 2012 AFCON (Did not qualify)
  13. 2015 AFCON (Did not qualify)
  14. 2017 AFCON (Did not qualify)

Originally published at jerseynumbertwelve.com on January 13, 2017.

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