Forget About AFCON 2017, Focus on the 2018 World Cup

Super-Eagles (1)
The Super Eagles 2016 squad during training drills. Photo/Super Eagles Official Twitter Page

The Super Eagles have been ousted from the 2017 African Cup of Nations slated for Gabon after losing 1-0 to the Pharaohs of Egypt, but this may just be a blessing in disguise for the team.

Despite having so much hope that the team could do the unthinkable by beating the Egyptians at the Borg El Arab Stadium on Tuesday, the Super Eagles players failed to soar and will be missing the bi-annual tournament for the second time in a row.

Rather than cry over spilt milk, it would be ideal for the Nigeria Football Federation to begin early preparation for the team ahead of the qualifying matches for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.

It’s no more news that Nigeria won’t be at the Nations Cup, however, it would be a double disaster if the team fail to qualify for the World Cup.

In view of this, gives an in-depth analysis on the five possible steps the NFF must embark on order to revive the nation’s football ahead of the World Cup qualifier.

1. Firstly, the Nigeria Football Federation should retain the services of Samson Siasia as the coach of the Super Eagles and forget about hiring a foreign coach who won’t guarantee the nation the world Cup or Nations Cup glory.

The fact that Siasia failed to qualify Nigeria for the 2017 African Cup of Nations does not make him a bad coach considering the fact that he had less time to maneuver the destiny of the team after taking over from former boss Sunday Oliseh. As it stands, Siasia has injected his own pattern and tactics into the team which could prove valuable.

19-year-old Alex Iwobi is a rising star on the English Premier League’s Arsenal F.C., but only played a few minutes on the pitch in the AFCON qualifying match between the Super Eagles and the Pharaohs of Egypt, March 29, 2016. Photo/Reuters

2. Secondly, The NFF should begin to organize grade ‘A’ international friendly matches for the team so that the players can form proper understanding and cohesion ahead of the qualifying series for the 2018 World Cup. Playing countries like Germany, Holland, Cote d’Ivoire, Algeria, Spain, France and England will help the confidence of the team considering the average age of the players.

3. Thirdly, the need for a developmental program that will help to unearth young and promising players for future competitions should be the major focus of the Nigeria Football Federation. Often times, the football house is fond of waiting so long until when things have gone from bad to worse, before drawing up a plan for the development of the nation’s football.

The home-based Super Eagles
The home-based Super Eagles. Photo/

4. The technical crew’s over dependency on foreign players should be limited as the home based players can hold their own if given the chance. An example is the Egyptian team that had just five foreign based players and 17 home based players that denied Nigeria from qualifying for the AFCON.

5. More so, Nigeria’s inability to qualify for the Nations Cup should be a welcome development for the NFF as it will give them the opportunity of putting their house in order (technical department) and appoint personalities that will push the nation’s football forward.

It is never too late for the senior national team to make amends of their errors that cost them another African Cup of Nations ticket, however, what is more paramount at this stage is for the Nigeria Football Federation to also learn from the Netherlands elimination from Europe 2016 and focus on the future challenge of the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers that is just around the corner.