A ‘’Favourable’’ World Cup Qualifying Draw for Eagles, by Modestus Njoku
Before the Brazil 2014 World Cup final qualifying draws for Africa zone was held in Cairo, Egypt, the Nigerian football authority, fans and Super Eagles players were apprehensive and scared over the kind of
opponent the national team would draw.
Nigerians prayed fervently for a favourable draw, an opponent that would not pose a serious threat to
the Eagles’ quest for a fifth World Cup ticket.
Expectedly therefore, it was jubilation galore as the country got what has been termed, ‘’favorable opponent’’ in Ethiopia. Ethiopia is termed ‘’favourable opponent’’ because of its little pedigree as far
as African and world football is concerned. The Ethiopians do not command a good respect when it comes to football ratings, not even in their region, East Africa, hence, they are termed ‘’minnows.’’
Nigeria was said to be the luckiest team among other African teams in the final leg draw for the next years’ world cup as the likes of, Algeria, Cote-De-vior and Algeria got stiff opponents in the two-legged qualifiers.
Infact, among these teams in this final lap, Nigeria, Cote-De-vior, Senegal, Egypt, Algeria, Tunisia, Ghana, Burkina-Faso, Ethiopia and Cameroon, the Ethiopians are considered the weakest.
For instance, among all these teams, only Burkina-Faso has never appeared in the world cup before. Also, all of these teams have either won the African Nations Cup or appeared in its finals; so to say that Ethiopia is the weakest team may not be out of place after all.
But the pertinent question we must ask is, is Ethiopia still a pushover team? Even if it is, should the Super Eagles perceive it so? If our boys would approach the matches, the first leg in Addis-Ababa
and the second leg in Calabar in October and November respectively with the mindset that they are playing ‘’football underdogs’’, well, they may pay dearly for it. The consequence may result to a shock to Nigerian football family members, a shocking experience akin to that of 2006, when Angola denied us of the Germany 2006 World Cup ticket.
Ethiopia cannot be said to be a push-over because for them to have reached this level of qualification when many teams have fallen aside, proves that, they have what it takes to .pick its first world cup
Therefore, it is necessary for the Stephen Keshi boys to approach the two forthcoming two legged matches with all seriousness devoid of over-confidence, complacency and attitude of underrating. The players
should develop the same attitude towards Ethiopia as Keshi, who immediately after the draws, said that, ‘’Ethiopia is as good as Spain and Brazil.’’ So, the amount of seriousness the players would have
attached if they had been drawn with Ghana, Egypt or Cote-de-vior should be attached to Ethiopia so that our dream for a fifth world cup appearance would not be killed.
Though, the record of the past meetings between the two countries favours Nigeria. It would be recalled that, the duo have met seven times before, where Nigeria won four times, drew twice and lost one.
The loss was in an AFCON 1994 qualifiers in Adis-Ababa, a victory still being celebrated by the Ethiopians till date. They must not record another win against Nigeria, at least, not at this time.
Arguably, all the 10 teams are potential qualifiers for the mundial in 2014. All the teams desires to have their country’s flags hoisted in the stadia of Brazil during the world cup finals including Ethiopia, the so called weeping babies and expectedly, when the qualifiers are concluded, definitely, there would be upsets and surprises.
However, we hope that, the African Champions, Nigeria not picking the ticket to Brazil should not be one of such surprises. The Super Eagles have had a dress-rehearsal of the coming World Cup in Brazil when they represented Africa in the Confederations Cup in June this year, so, it is necessary that they take part in the main drama.
Though they failed to go beyond the group stage in that competition, yet, they displayed quality and sexy football to the delight of Brazilian fans who hoped to see them again at the World Cup proper.
Therefore, the Super Eagles must not disappoint both their Nigerian and Brazilian fans as well as their fans the world over. All we are saying, give us Brazil 2014 World Cup ticket, nothing more, nothingless, at least for now.