The reality that the Super Eagles will not be playing at the 2022 World Cup will really hit home hard when the tournament kicks off Sunday in Qatar.
In March, perennial rivals Black Stars of Ghana shone past the Super Eagles to book their ticket to Qatar 2022.
Will Nigerians now switch their support to ‘Old Enemy’ Ghana?
It does not appear so going by the banter on social media, where many fans have predicted the Black Stars will soon be back home in Ghana after an early exit to follow the World Cup on television, like the Super Eagles.
Ghana are drawn in a tough-looking group that has Portugal, Korea Republic and Uruguay, the team who stopped them from becoming the first African team to reach the semifinal of the World Cup in 2010.
Since qualification at the expense of Nigeria, they have strengthened their squad with the likes of Southampton defender Mohammed Salisu, Tariq Lamptey and Inaki Williams, whose younger brother Nico will feature for Spain in Qatar.
Who will score their goals in Qatar will be their biggest fear.
If only they could borrow the firepower of the Super Eagles – Victor Osimhem, Paul Onuachu, Terem Moffi etc…
Nigerian fans will most likely be cheering other teams to victory at this World Cup because of the long-standing rivalry between the two West African countries.
Same could be said of the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon, the first African team to reach the last eight of the World Cup in Italia 1990.
Senegal captain Sadio Mane is popular in Nigeria for his football and what he has done for his little village Bambali with the money he has earned from the game.
They are the reigning African champions, the highest ranked team from the continent and became only the second African team to reach the quarterfinal of the World Cup in 2002.
Mane has remained a major doubt for the Mundial no thanks to an injury he suffered in action for his club Bayern Munich.
His absence could deal a huge blow on their progress in Qatar, and if that be the case, Nigerian support for the Teranga Lions may not be for long.
Before the Super Eagles made their World Cup debut in 1994, most of these fans supported Brazil at world football’s biggest feast.
They play a beautiful game, The Samba, they are the most successful team of the World Cup with five triumphs, only team to play in every World Cups and they produced some of the best players in the world – Pele, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho.
However, you have to go back to 2002, when they last lifted the World Cup.
Brazil of 2022 will have Neymar and as many as 11 players from the Premier League, which is the best followed league by Nigerians.
So, club allegiance could see these fans rooting for Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus because they support Arsenal or Vinicius Junior because you support Real Madrid.
The Three Lions of England could benefit from such allegiance as well as it is packed full with Premier League stars and of course they also have Bukayo Saka.
Nigerian blood runs through the veins of the Arsenal talisman, but they are many who have not forgiven him for picking to play for England ahead of the Super Eagles.
But then Arsenal are top of the Premier League table going into December for the first time in many years and Saka has played a starring role in the Gunners super run.
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