EAGLES' CAN 2012 OUSTER
Though it sounds incredible, but the stack reality is that the Super Eagles of Nigeria will not be a part of the next edition of the Africa Cup of Nations, which kicks off January 21, 2012 in Gabon/Equatorial Guinea.
The Eagles against all expectations blew their chances of being at the 'African World Cup' when they were held to a 2-2 draw by Guinea at the Abuja National Stadium last Saturday.
All the Samson Siasia tutored side needed to book their place in the competition was a win no matter how slim, but with only a minute to go, they surrendered their 2-1 lead to shatter the country's dream, a situation that has seen soccer fans fuming with rage.
Nigerian soccer fans as expected have not only called for Coach Samson Siasia's sack, but a total overhaul of Nigerian football administration.
Apart from the fans, top government officials and football administrators have been reacting to the lacklustre performance of the Eagles. The nation's No.3 citizen, Senator David Mark described the Eagles' failure as a shame, while the chairman of House Committee on sports, Hon. Godfrey Gaiya berated the players for playing without commitment.
Ex-international, Etim Esin stated without mincing words that Samson Siasia and his lads failed the nation, even as he called for Siasia's head.
The anger in the land is understandable given the fact that this would be the first time Nigeria will fail to qualify for the Nations Cup since 1986. In 1996, the Eagles missed out on political grounds courtesy of a federal government decision to pull out of the championship, which South Africa hosted.
Eagles' failure to make it to the 2012 Nations Cup is capping what could pass for a season of failure for Nigerian football. It is recalled that West African neighbours, Ghana had earlier this year dealt Nigerian football a big blow by stopping both the Super Falcons and Dream Team V from qualifying for the soccer event of the recently concluded Maputo 2011 All Africa Games.
Home-based Eagles had equally suffered an embarrassing defeat in the hands of Togo in the WAFU Cup, which Nigeria hosted in Abeokuta.
Where we got it wrong:
Analysts believe that the Super Eagles and Guinea would have strolled to the 2012 Nations Cup without dissipating much energy if the Super Eagles technical crew had done its homework well. The coaches surprisingly did not read the rules well to know that a slim 1-0 or 2-1 victory would have seen both countries through on 13 points apiece. Guinea's late equalizer not only threw Eagles out but also paved the way for Sudan and Libya to pull through on 13 and 12 points respectively. Sudan qualified courtesy of the 13 points, they garnered despite losing at home to Ghana in their last game, while Libya went through on 12 points after holding Zambia to a goalless draw away in Ndola.
Surprisingly, just like the NFF, Siasia and his boys went into the game against Guinea ignorant of the rules, not knowing that all they needed was a win irrespective of how slim. This informed why the Eagles kept surging forward in quest of more goals when they should have been defending their 2-1 lead. What a confirmation of the words of the scripture that my people perish for lack of knowledge.
2013 Nations Cup:
Unknown to many people, Super Eagles by their last Saturday performance are now walking a tight rope as far as qualification for the 2013 edition of the competition is concerned.
Going by the rules being applied by the Confederation of African Football (CAF), all the 16 countries in Equatorial Guinea/Gabon are through to the last stage of the qualifiers for 2013, while the Eagles would start to fight their way from the prelims alongside other giants like Egypt and Cameroon, who equally did not make it to the 2012 edition.
No thanks to time constraint, CAF has opted for a straight home and away knock out format, which means the Eagles could have the misfortune of being drawn against a country like Ghana or even Guinea again during the knock out series.
Business face of Nigeria's failure:
Beyond the pain of Nigerian soccer fans not enjoying the Nations Cup, all the stakeholders in Nigerian football-officials, players, corporate bodies, sponsors, sports wear manufacturers, market women, viewing centre operators, name it are going to suffer heavy financial losses.
All the corporate bodies that have signed deals with NFF as official this, official that of the Super Eagles including those that get involved in ambush marketing have lost out as the Nations Cup would have been an avenue to get good mileage and return on investment.
Mr. Christopher Anushiem, who runs a viewing centre in Ajegunle area of Lagos told Daily SunSports that the Super Eagles have already spoilt his New Year fun business wise.
'January would have been it for those of us who run viewing centre business if the Eagles had qualified. Those guys have messed up the whole thing. They are nothing but a disgrace to the nation,' he said.
Taye Ige, whose outfit, Hotsports handles Tom Tom's media campaign as well as that of electronics giants Samsung said his clients who are the official Candy and official electronics of the Super Eagles respectively are losing millions of Naira as a result of the Super Eagles no show situation.
As Ige puts it: 'They have simply destroyed business plan for the year and as we speak, I have resolved to go on holiday to the United States during the tournament early next year.'
Pepsi Cola's PR Consultant, Mike Nzeagwu, who lamented Eagles' dismal performance disclosed that Pepsi had planned to use Nigeria's qualification to launch a fresh campaign for the product.
Pepsi, it would be noted had before the game pledged to dole out N50 million to the team should they get past Guinea and pick the Nations Cup ticket.
Aisha Falode, whose outfit, African Independent Television (AIT) is the official broadcaster of the Super Eagles said the station would lose revenue running into billions of Naira. Falode said a whole lot of already signed MoU would be cancelled as a result of the absence of Nigeria from the 2012 soccer show.
'TV right is the biggest revenue when it comes to football. We are going to lose billions of Naira because we have lost the market. The big spenders are not going to put their money in a show in which a brand like the Super Eagles are absent. It is just a case of bad business for every stakeholder,' she said.