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Football Extra: What Next After Nigeria’s Performance At The Russia 2018 Mundial By Dayo Johnson | The Precision

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Here we go again, another fluffed chance for Nigeria to join Cameroun, Senegal and Ghana as African Countries to ever reach the quarter final stage of the World Cup since inception.


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Ever since Nigeria qualified to play at their first-ever Mundial at USA ’94 (which is still being regarded as the country’s best appearance till date in terms of performance) it has thereafter become a rough and bumpy ride in subsequent editions with the latest being a frustrating finish and eventual elimination suffered in a 2-1 loss to the Argentines yet again this time in Russia 2018.
The following factors may however be considered responsible for the continous wait for a spectacular finish at the World’s biggest football showpiece.


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YOU CANNOT COMPLETELY IGNORE HOME GROWN TALENTS
One of the reasons Clemence Westerhof is still being regarded as Nigeria’s best ever Coach at the senior level is because he took his time to comb the Nigerian League where the likes of Daniel Amokachi, George Finidi, Emmanuel Amuneke, Aloy Agu, Fridays Ekpo and Elaho as well the likes of Benedict Iroha and a host of others were discovered and given the opportunities to battle for first team shirts alongside the foreign legion then and this act no doubt endeared the so called Dutchgerian Westerhof to talents that would later take the World by storm after subsequently using the platforms to go abroad and sign up for top European Club sides.
Some of the players above were transformed to superstars as Nigeria did not only qualify to play at the World Cup for the first time but also went to the USA as FIFA’s fifth most ranked team in the world, no wonder they dazed an Hristo Stoichcov inspired Bulgaria side 3-0 in their opening match.
OBSERVATION
A Junior Lokosa the current highest goal scorer in the NPFL would have benefited from being on the provisional list even if he is being dropped at the last minute the experience would improved his mentality he would have probably even displaced a Simy Nwankwo that didn’t score a single goal in training while in Russia.


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ONLY THE VERY BEST LEGS ARE GOOD ENOUGH FOR THE MUNDIAL
At the USA ’94 World Cup the Nigerian contingent had a blend of raw and polished talents who were all very good at what they do, gangling Rashidi Yekini claimed the Portuguese league Golden Boot Award after banging in 34 goals in 32 league appearances for Victorial Setubal no wonder he became the first Nigerian to win the prestigious African Footballer of the year in 1994.
The likes of Daniel “the Bull”Amokachi won the Ebony award for the best black player in Belgium prior to the Mundial while starring for Club Brugge even as late Captain Stephen Keshi, hard man Chidi Nwanu,Peter Rufai and Samson Siasia were all household names in the Belgian Jupiler league.
Austin Azuka Okocha earned the goal of the season in the German Bundesliga in the 92-93 season after causing problems in the match between his Club Eintrachnt Frankfurt and Kalrushe scoring a bizarre goal which left Oliver Khan sprawling in goal while Emmanuel Amuneke was red hot playing for Zamalek and all the above players were top quality by their own standards.


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OBSERVATION 
Our players are now struggling to stamp their authorities in their various leagues with some even plying their trades in less fancied football playing nations. Nigerian players should be encouraged to stand tall in other to shine again so to avoid the inferiority complex whenever we come against bigger teams.
Was just thinking when was the last time we claimed the African Footballer of the year award?
YOU CAN’T BUY EXPERIENCE ESPECIALLY AT THE BIGGEST STAGE
When Cameroun got to the quarterfinals at Italia ’90, the likes of Captain Stephen Taw Taw ETA, Roger Milla, Thomas Nkono and a host of others were part of the team that went to Espana ’82 and crashed out in the first round without losing a match after drawing all their games in a group that included eventual winners Italy.


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Not quite long ago at the South Africa 2010 edition Ghana came to the World Cup with a host of their experienced players like Michael Essien despite his injury concerns and the ever influential Asamoah Gyan and in the end it took a spirited effort before Uruguay stopped the Black Stars from entering the last four no thanks to a Luis Suarez deliberate “catching” of a goal bound Ghana effort.
At the on going Championships Essam El-Haddary became the oldest player ever to appear at the mundial at age 44 and despite Egypt’s 1-2 loss to the Saudis the goalie still showed some eye catching moments for Pharaohs including stopping a penalty in their final group match but it goes to show that apart from sharing experience with the younger players he could still deliver when called upon.
OBSERVATION 
Obafemi Martins may not be as lethal as he used be but he recently scored a spectacular goal that won his club their first ever FA Cup this year in China and don’t forget as he is one of Nigeria’s most travelled striker and besides whatever happened in trying out Brown Ideye who currently plays in the La Liga.


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I believe Zlatan Ibrahimovic would still have made the Sweden team if he didn’t insist on staying retired from international football.
TIME TO RETURN TO OLD WINNING WAYS AND APPROACH
It is high time to look for the permanent replacements of the following players: Rashidi Yekini, Daniel Amokachi, Uche Okechuwu, Finidi George,Emmanuel Amuneke, Ben Iroha and most importantly and urgently too the man so good they named him twice JayJay Okocha and the reason could not be far fetched as their exploits in the Super Eagles colours said quite a lot about how much they contributed to making the team a dreaded one during their generation.


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OBSERVATION
As an aspiring soccer power house, you don’t deviate from your traditional playing style you only improve on it and develop alternative back up patterns i believe we all know the abilities of the aforementioned players and that’s why in 1994 an average boy on the street will give you the team list of the Super Eagles starting lineup ahead of any crucial match.
But these days it doesn’t happen anymore just imagine even as at the eve of the match against Croatia in Russia, most soccer following Nigerians were not sure of the starting eleven and now the rest is history because your first match matters in the group phase.
STOP UNNECESSARILY INFLUENCING PLAYERS TO BE INVITED 


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Clemence Westerhof is once again the case study here as he enjoyed his reign as the then Eagles Coach with a free hand to operate and that’s because he was directly responsible to the then Vice President Admr. Augustus Aikhomu and nobody else has unnecessary influence on the team.
OBSERVATION 
When a Coach is employed give him his rules of engagement and set a target for him after which you should allow him do his job so he could be fired when things aren’t working fine.
No patronising and unnecessary emotions attached to the gaffer’s job because this is the era of hire and fire.


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CONCLUSION
We could practically go on and on and on again but for now let’s welcome the Super Eagles to Russia 2018 back home and salute them for their efforts because you can’t give what you don’t have especially when filing out against a group of Champions, for instance in Messi, Rojo, Mascherano, Di Maria, Aguero and the rest of the Albacieletes gang.
It will however do us good if we begin to prepare for the next edition, Qatar 2022 “ASAP” by mapping out a plan on how not to exit the championship at the first phase thank God there will be an Africa Cup of Nations Championships next year, let’s reshuffle our pack and forge ahead from there.


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Is anybody asking why we have never won the U20 WYC, another area we need to reorganize because it is the trophy that has also eluded us despite getting so close on a number of occasions even as Ghana remains the only African team to have achieved the feat and according to FIFA it is the perfect platform to build players for the senior national teams… tomorrow never dies.

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