When the draws of the grouping of the ongoing 2014 World Cup were made back in December, fans of the Super Eagles and the team’s handlers felt quite confident of qualifying from the group and justifiably so. Argentina aside, the reigning African champions were supposed to have little if any problem in dispatching off Bosnia which is making its first appearance at a world cup and Iran which is traditionally not a ‘footballing country’. It was therefore shocking, when the Eagles ultimately failed to beat their Asian opponents, Iran.
It was supposed to be the one match that victory was guaranteed, the match that would set up the Super Eagles nicely for its subsequent fixtures, the match which could see the Super Eagles win by a greater margin than the 3-0 that remains its highest at a World Cup so far yet, somehow, someway, the toil and labour of the Nigerian team against Iran was unfruitful, producing a bore barren draw which has gained the tag of being the worst match so far of the tournament.
The Super Eagles started the match brightly, looking to attack at every opportunity and it seemed like there would be a harvest of goals when the team had the ball in the net as early as the seventh minute before it was ruled out by the referee for a foul on the Iranian goalkeeper by Mikel. However, as the match wore on, it became evident that the team was bereft of ideas, just punting the ball around the pitch, in the hope that one way or the other, a goal would come. Indeed, it seemed like the coach, Stephen Keshi had taught the team how to play well but failed to teach them how to score because according to statistics, the team dominated every aspect of the game; possession, shots, e.t.c.
Typically in games like this, teams look up to their most experienced and talented men for a moment of inspiration or a touch of genius but the men who hold that title for the Eagles, Mikel Obi and Victor Moses were major disappointments. That Mikel was subsequently awarded the ‘Man Of The Match’ awarded summed up the kind of game the match was, as his pedestrian approach in midfield was a pain to watch, while Victor Moses was so bad that he didn’t last one hour on the pitch. Shola Ameobi and Osaze Odemwingie looked threatening when they came off the bench but it was a case of too little too late.
Going forward, Nigerians are still waiting for our first World Cup win in the 16 years since France 1998 but there is hope for qualification as traditionally, the Super Eagles tend to play better against bigger teams, especially when they have been written off. If the Eagles raise their game, they can beat Bosnia in their next match on Saturday, while a draw in the last match against Argentina is not too far-fetched, because the South American giants should surely have qualified after beating Iran and would look to rest their star players.
All hope is not lost then and now more than ever is the time to get behind our team. Ride on Super Eagles!
Damilola Orehin is a freelance creative writer with interesting opinions and analysis of sports, entertainment and social issues. He has written on several established print and online platforms and he showcases his deep-rooted passion for a wide variety of sports at tecmospot.blogspot.com.
Follow him on twitter @Kundammyby