January, 30 2022.
By Wale Ajayi.
After the defeat to Tunisia in Garoua, Nigerians bowed their heads in disappointment. Some cried on the pitch, while a few others gathered the pieces of their broken hearts and retired to their hideouts in tears.
Not many thought that the journey will end when it did. This is because, coach Augustine Eguaveon and his crew started so well, defeating Egypt one nil, thrashing Sudan 3-1 and humbling Guinea Bissau two nil, to come out of the group stage with maximum points.
Their second round opponent Tunisia finished as one of the best losers with just 3 points, and were not in anyway spectacular in their three group stage matches.
That increased the expectations and left many confident that the Tunisians we see today, we shall see no more.
Not to forget too, that the Super Eagles won all three group matches in Garoua, scoring six goals in the process.
The home fans have suddenly adopted the Nigerian team as theirs, meaning that the confidence level for the Super Eagles was at it's climax going into the tie with Tunisia.
However, when some went on their knees in prayers, a few enemies of Nigeria football buried live cows, prayed and fasted all night, while some others visited spiritualists in their desperate bid to stop the Super Eagles from flying.
As much as this writer tries not to be superstitious, the events that transpired during that ill-fated match has given many reasons to believe that activities on the field that day, was manipulated by external forces within and outside the field of play.
On a day when over 30 congress members watched the match from the comfort of their living rooms because for the first time in many years, the NFF was not buoyant enough to take them on the usual Nations Cup pilgrimage.
Then there is also the self acclaimed enemies of Nigeria football, who from day one, have formed a powerful opposition group that is desperately fighting for recognition and consistently seeking the failure or downfall of the Amaju Pinnick led board.
These men have compiled allegations ranging from financial misappropriation and misapplication of funds. They have dragged the NFF to different anti graft agencies with various degrees.of allegations, they have sent dozens of petitions to CAF and FIFA and daily they watch as results go against them.
Knowing that they have tried all means possible and it is looking like it is a lost battle, they have decided now to dine with the devil.
Many years ago, no amount of frustration or anger will make a Nigerian kneel down to pray for the downfall of their national team. That was when Nigerians from all walks of life, pray in unison, putting aside religious or tribal sentiments. Today, because of their selfish ambitions, many have turned enemies of the nation and now go the extra mile to wish their national teams badluck
Men buried cows in the north, some slept in spiritual homes on the eve of the match, a few others dined with herbalists all night as they seek to fight the system that they claimed have neglected them or denied them their share of the national cake.
As much as these ignorant players and officials struggled to win, the negative energy sent out by the opposition tends to force them not to shine when much is expected.
And after the defeat to Tunisia, some Nigerians celebrated in their closets while a few others have now shifted their focus to the World Cup qualifiers.
They say, once the team fails to make it to Qatar, hell will be let loosed. Many say they can't wait for the team to fail as that will pave way for another round of crisis that will tear Nigeria football apart.
Some of them are disguised enemies, some are members of the team, some are staff of the NFF, some are board.members, some are FA Chairman, friends of Nigeria football, media men and some self acclaimed stakeholders.
The negative vibes around Nigeria football is massive. The bad blood and hatred among friends is just unimaginable and in the buildup to the all important two-leggad World Cup playoffs with the Black stars of Ghana, there is the urgent need for all football stakeholders to bury the hatchet and unite for the sake of Nigeria and Nigeria football.
We must put aside our personal differences and be united in prayers. Victory for Nigeria is victory for all.
These players and the technical crew have a duty to make us happy, but we also have a duty to pray and wish them well. It is only when we play out part as patriotic Nigerians that we can begin to dream and hope that Nigeria's flag will be hoisted at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.