By Emmanuel Okara
Lagos – With the 2018 World Cup just three days away from kick-off, Nigerian fans are somewhat less confident on the chances of the Super Eagles making a resounding impact at the Coupe de Mundial; after some lacklustre performances in the recent tune-up matches they played.
Following the back-to-back defeat suffered at the hands of the Three Lions of England and the Narodak of the Czech Republic, and the 1-1 draw with the Simbas of the DR of Congo; many fans have come to the sudden realisation that the team is not in any way ready for the World Cup.
Suddenly the Sterling performances of the Super Eagles during the World Cup qualifiers in which the team qualified for the World Cup with a match to spare, or the morale boosting 4-2 trouncing of the Albiceleste of Argentina in a friendly match in Russia last year; has faded into distant memories.
But in spite of the misgivings being expressed by teeming Nigerian football fans… I feel the poor outing by the Super Eagles in the friendly matches played so far, is the best thing to have happened to the team in recent times.
Because if the team had won those matches — the players would have been lulled into a false sense of complacency — and become FOOLISHLY overconfident during the main event.
Friendly matches can be deceptive and fans should not be unduly swayed by results from friendly matches whether good or bad.
It is in such tune-up matches that coaches test-run their strategies and tactics through combination of players; in usual and unusual positions in the field of play, which the untrained-eye would not see.
Now that the “inherent flaws’’ of the Super Eagles have been bared for all to see, I believe the players will knuckle down and work their socks-off in the remaining days to be in tip-top shape for the main event on June 16 against the Vatreni of Croatia at the Kaliningrad Stadium.
As much as I would want the Super Eagles to perform maximally in all their matches, I would rather prefer the team to lose the way they are currently doing in the friendly matches they have played, and perform excellently in the competition they are preparing for.
Therefore, I see the current development as a blessing in disguise, because now that the odds are not in our favour, this is the best time to prove bookmakers wrong with their permutations.
The Super Eagles may not win the World Cup in Russia, but we expect the team to exceed our expectations this time around by playing coherent and purposeful football that would likely take Nigeria to a place it has never ascended to in the World Cup.
It now behooves on Coach Gernot Rohr to lick the team into shape and for Mikel Obi et al… to put up a performance that all Nigerians will be proud of, and prove to sceptics that they are not a flash in the pan.