After the dust has settled, and we’ve come to terms with our loss to France and exit from World Cup 2014, it’s a good time to look back and reflect.
First off, let’s say that although we’re all disappointed and sad to see our team lose, this has, by all account been our most successful world cup showing in 16 years. Pretty much since the days our great players, Kanu, Sunday Oliseh, Jay Jay Okocha, Taribo West etc. Yes it sounds odd to say but it definitely has. Let’s take a step back and look at our previous world cup showings:
- 2002 World Cup – Left in the Group Stage with just 1 point
- 2006 World Cup – Did not qualify
- 2010 World Cup – Left in the Group Stage with just 1 point.
Now this particular group of player reached the knockout stages with arguably far less talent than the previous team that achieved this. They beat a pretty good Bosnian side, pushed one of the favorites Argentina to the limit, and even in the loss to France, held their own all the way till the last 11 mins of the game. It’s really a performance we can show our face about.
Vincent Enyeama, solid as ever, made the most saves of any goalkeeper at the tournaments.
When you look at this squad of players, with barely a star name in Vincent Enyeama, Mikel and maybe Osaze, you realize that what they have accomplished as a team over the past 2 years along with Stephen Keshi is very remarkable; African Nations Cup, World Cup Round of 16, and playing more organized than the previous squads. They have accomplished much more than the other African teams with bigger star players (Ghana and Ivory Coast). The coach made tough decisions and stuck by them, and a lot of them for the most part paid off.
Stephen Keshi, right now stands, as the only African Coach to have won the African Nations Cup as both a player and a coach. Comparing that with any other coach from Nigeria then you can see he’s miles ahead of his colleagues. When you add other NFF issues, and politics he and the team have had to deal with through his tenure then you realize that this job is 10 times harder than other coaching jobs, and makes the achievement more impressive.
While we’re sad to see him resign, I can completely understand why he made that decision. It’s understandable that we root for our country and get frustrated when we lose, but to hurl insults and call the squad the worst or the Coach the worst is really ungrateful and short-sighted. I myself in my frustration am guilty of some not-so-nice comments.
So I stand here today, and say a BIG Thank You to the Super Eagles, and Stephen Keshi. You have done us proud, and history will remember you all as one of the best teams, and coach produced by Nigeria. And to you Stephen Keshi, we hope to see you soon again, but for now, Take A Bow Sir! You deserve to be celebrated rather than castigated.
Signed, A Happy and Proud Nigerian.