The iconic history and strength of Nigeria’s Super Eagles have always been put to stiff tests, and that will always be because of the dynamics of football.
But for a side with a good number of legendary showings and performers, nothing short of above – average outings are still expected all the time, whoever are the players, the coaches,the time and the opposition.
In most recent time, the fall of the Eagles from their dizzying heights in the African game especially,was best exemplified by the 2-0 loss to Madagascar at the last AFCON. Putting that sad day behind in the mind of the very passionate follower of the team has not been easy.
But that has got to be,and it has been, before the horror at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin, Edo State, in the game against one of the light powers of football in West Africa, Sierra Leone!
Great teams do have bad days. Brazil had it when they were pounded 7-1 by Germany in front of home fans at the 2014 World Cup. There are other instances of such spectacle in global football history.
But when a great team surrenders a 4-0 lead, like it happened in Benin, where Sierra Leone drew 4-4 with the Eagles, after being behind 0-4 in half an hour, that is something else. That is not the usual ‘bad day’.
The character of great sides across football history is in consistent and identifiable playing philosophy, style and in unhindered expression of their core quality, all the time and anywhere.
The Eagles collective spirit of Friday evening in Benin was horrendous, their first half display was a fluke after all, it is not consoling for me.
A great team’s offensive potency must be as sharp as its defensive prowess. That is display of class and of being extraordinary.
The Eagles were a complete opposite of this in Benin. Classless!
If we are to forgive this second half disaster, especially for the excuse of players collection,
who are mostly not a reflection of the historical quality of the greatness of the Eagles, we cannot gloss over the disgrace of surrendering a four – goal lead against SIERRA LEONE, on our own soil! Very ugly.
But the signs have been ominous. We have only been cowardly to embark on a revolution of regenerating our game, of rebuilding it gradually from the scratch and of patiently nursing it to get back to the level where our teams again become respected across the continent.
Sack Gernot Rohr now and move on under the same system, nothing will advance, and more shocker like this will always await the Super Eagles.
Fast and furiously, flaks have been coming the way of the players Rohr paraded in this game, but this is not essentially about them, don’t blame them, all of them didn’t go through the mill that produced the greatest players of Nigerian football, they don’t possess the consummate qualities of playing for this legendary side and reflecting always the core spirit of the truest strength of the side expressed from the Red Devils days to the Green Eagles era and to the Super Eagles years of the 1990’s.
A 4-4 draw is not a face-saver on our home soil, it is a horror film.
And I hope by now, Amaju Pinnick and the other board members in the NFF would begin to realise this is not the right parting gift to the crazy Nigerian football fans as they wind down in office.
Yes, we will be at the next AFCON, yes we may beat Sierra Leone in the return leg on Tuesday, but this is another ugly memory for our international football.
By Biodun Alabi