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Last month, the draws for the 2014 FIFA world cup was held at the Costa do Sauipe in Salvador, Brazil placing Nigeria’s super eagles in group F with two-time world champions, Argentina, Iran and first timer Bosnia-Herzegovinia. Many football loving Nigerians who have been monitoring the success of the Nigerian senior team at both the 2013 African Cup of Nations and the world cup qualifiers are of the view that the draw is the best the country has ever had in her history of participation at the global soccer event. Consequently, the thinking among Nigerians is that the country would have good outing in the summer event. Indeed, the performance of the Super Eagles in the recent international friendly match against Italy further gave soccer loving Nigerians confidence that our super eagles will not only qualify for the Round of 16 of the world cup but possibly play in the semi-final of the competition to be held in Brazil this summer. The super eagles would feature in the global event for the fifth time, but the best the country has ever achieved from the biggest football activity in the world is qualifying for the Round of 16 in 1994 and 1998.
Therefore expectations are high of a better performance in Brazil this year and for this reason we insist that now is the time to get cracking on the preparation for the super eagles’ successful performance in the world cup. The task ahead indeed is a huge one and as African champions, the senior national team must have the best preparation.
For a start, we urge the Nigerian football federation, NFF, to give the Head Coach, Stephen Okechukwu keshi the freehand to choose his players for the world cup and friendly matches. This also applies to his choice of Assistants. Keshi has made history within the short period he became Nigerian Head Coach of the Super Eagles and for this we believe he should be allowed to sit at the Technical bench of the team in Brazil. We welcome the decision of the football federation to give keshi a free hand to choose the team training camp for the Super Eagles in Brazil. However, we expect the issue of a training site to have been sorted out by now. England for instance got a training camp for the national team shortly after the draws in Brazil.
Equally worthy of note is the need to resolve the Bonus palaver before the commencement of the mundial game. The players and coaches must be told what they would earn at every stage of the competition. There should also be a clear blue print on how and when the money would be paid. Match winning bonuses have always been a contentious issue between players and officials of the country’s football federation since 1998 world cup in France where players reportedly met with NFF officials for three days to negotiable how much they should be paid before the game against Denmark which they eventually lost by 4 goals to 1. The show of shame that was displayed in Namibia, where the players refused to board the plane provided by the apex football body in world to fly them and the technical crew to Brazil for the confederation cup should serve as a lesson for the football authorities to put their house in order before embarking on any international outing.
This inevitably brings us to the vexed issue of code of conduct for the players. We urge the NFF to quickly draw a code of conduct for the players which must be signed by the players before entering the Eagles camp. Much more fundamental to our preparation for a successful outing in Brazil is for money to be made available by the feral government which should be judiciously used for that purpose by NFF.
There is no doubt that with adequate preparation and commitment on the part of players, coaches and NFF, the country’s National Team could beat a lot of teams at the mundial game. Therefore as the countdown to the world cup begins with the draws, shoddy preparation and acrimonies which have marred our previous preparations for the world cup must be avoided. The senior national team must excel in Brazil this summer.