Before Arsenal, I was Nigerian. During Arsenal, there is Nigeria. After Arsenal, there is Nigeria. Arsenal have rounded up for the season but football lives on in Canada, New Zealand and all over the world.
Nigeria’s U-20 Male team have been in New Zealand aiming to win the FIFA World Youth Championship for the 1st time. The flying Eagles have never won this title. They came closest in Holland 2005 when a certain alien in human skin scored two penalties to make Chinedu Ogbuke’s header useless. That alien has gone on to win the FIFA Footballer of the year/ Ballon D’or while Mikel, who stood beside him on the podium 10 years ago is comfortable with the cold benches in West London. Messi was the alien. Where is Ogbuke? recently dumped by Schalke 04. What of Kaita? Jumping from one NPFL club to the other. Taye Taiwo? Gift Atulewa? Ambrose Vanzekin?
Back to the current Flying Eagles, they are blessed with “age” and pace upfront. They have a certain Iheanacho in the youth ranks of Manchester City, Yahaya with Spurs and others like Success, Awoniyi and a good coach in Manu Garba. They started with a 4-2 defeat to Brazil before defeating North Korea and Hungary 4-0 and 2-0 respectively. Will they break the jinx and bring back the trophy for Buhari? Change? Nigeria has been successful in the u-17, U-23 Olympics and will be happy to add the U-20 to their cabinet in the glass house. 1st, they have the German hurdle to jump.
In Canada, The Falcons served the universe with one of the best comebacks of the FIFA Women Worldcup. The Super Falcons from 2-0 down to nick a point from Sweden thanks to goals from player of the match, Ngozi “Ozil” Okobi, Asisat Oshoala and Ordega. The Falcons have never gone beyond the quarter final of the Worldcup and have generally been woeful with just 3 wins in 20 Worldcup games. They face Australia on Friday night before squaring up against the USA, a team they have never picked a point from.
Can Oshoala inspire the ladies to a breakthrough in the world stage. The ladies have performed well in the youth Worldcups and will hope to transfer their success in the big stage. Can Perpetua Nkwocha’s experience push them further into the tournament? This will most likely be her swansong, being the oldest lady in the tournament. Same is applied to Precious Dede; can she give way for the younger goalie like Whyte and Ohiaeriaku, the latter being the youngest babe in Canada?
Nigerians have their hopes on the Super Falcons and Flying Eagles especially seeing how the Ladies put up a great comeback and how the Lads have kept their cool in the land of the kiwis. Many believe that the Super Eagles may never have recovered from a first half 2-0 defeat.
The Super Eagles will need to draw inspiration from the two national teams on FIFA assignment and beat Chad on Saturday in an AFCON 2017 qualifier.
In case you don’t know, the Nigeria Professional Football League resumes this weekend. Yipeeeee.
Till we meet, #SupportTheNPFL