Sport
The odds are stacked heavily against Nigeria
Publish Date: Jun 30, 2014
The odds are stacked heavily against Nigeria
Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi is adamant a bonus row hasnt derailed the focus of his players. AFP Photo
  • mail
  • img
newvision

By Fred Kaweesi in Belo Horizonte

Today

France v Nigeria

SOUTH America has produced some of the most iconic players in the history of world football.

From Pele to Ronaldo and Maradona to Lionel Messi, the continent has assembled a number of celebrated stars over several generations.

And the rewards have been nine World Cup titles shared between Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay.

The only continent that beats South America in World Cup silverware is Europe with 10.

But certainly not Africa, who despite producing stars such as Roger Milla, Abedi Pele or George Weah, continues to be dwarfed by the two continents.

Nigeria's midfielder John Obi Mikel addresses a press conference at Mane Garrincha National Stadium in Brasilia on the eve of the match against France. AFP Photo

Of course, various reasons, will be presented for this. But the simplest has been the lack of pride by African footballers.

In Brazil, for example, football runs through players’ veins and the pride of representing their nation pumps straight from their hearts.

In Africa, football runs through bank accounts and the pride of representing the nation is non-existent –at least from the impressions left behind by Cameroon, Ghana and now Nigeria, who face France in a prestigious World Cup quarterfinal fixture today.

At first, Cameroon threatened not to travel to the tournament if their £61,000 that was due to be paid to them for figuring in the World Cup was not improved.

An expensively chartered jet from Angolan airline TAAG waited almost 24 hours before departing with the team for Brazil.

Then days later, the Ghanaian government was forced to send more than $3m (£1.8m) in cash by plane here to pay the appearance fees owed to the national team to avert a player strike. Brazilian television then showed pictures of defender John Boye kissing a wad of dollars.

Last Thursday, Nigeria missed a scheduled training session in Campinas to resolve a row over bonus money.

The players felt the $15,000 (£8,800) offered to each was short of what they were expecting for reaching the last 16.

Although an understanding was reached, neutrals have been left speechless by Africa’s priorities at the tournament.

“It’s the same problem for African team always. You cannot win the World Cup with this always happening,” former Chelsea manager Avram Grant told New Vision last week.

Nigerian coach Stephen Keshi insists that the bonus row will not affect his team’s performance against the 1998 World Cup champions.

France will be looking to Karim Benzema, (L) seen here in training with leftback Patrice Evra, once again for goals. AFP Photo

But few will believe him looking at what befell Cameroon and Ghana.

“We don’t play for Nigeria because of money. But when you work somewhere, you are entitled to certain things. You can’t deprive players from asking for their rights, this is normal. We are not demanding for anything that we are not used to,” Nigeria captain Joseph Yobo told reporters.

Nigeria’s campaign didn’t start well when they were held 0-0 by Iran. But, they won the key match against Bosnia 1-0 and those four points proved sufficient in the end.

Although the Super Eagles lost their last group game 3-2 to Argentina, they put in a decent shift with Ahmed Musa scoring two fine goals.

Musa will be challenged to shoulder Nigeria’s attacking burdens against Didier Deschamps’ revamped French side.

The French will be at full strength and fresh for this match, as Patrice Evra, Yohan Cabaye and Mathieu Valbuena all rested in the last group match against Ecuador.

But although France have proved solid defensively, their expansive attacking approach normally exposes them, especially in the wide full back positions.

Nigeria are a very good counter-attacking side that thrives on Musa, Peter Odemwinge and Emmanuel Emenike’s pace going forward. All the Super Eagles will need to do is to keep patient and wait for their moments.

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
AFCON: Tunisia, DR Congo into quaterfinals
TUNISIA and DR Congo became the latest two teams to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations on Monday after playing out a 1-1 draw in Bata...
Netballers honoured at Liberation Day celebrations
The national netball players were recognised at the 29th NRM Liberation Day celebrations in Soroti on Monday....
Rugby: Mongers give up title chase
Former Entebbe based Sadolin Mongers team captain Ronald Adigas has admitted his side be regarded as title contenders after their 33-5 defeat to Heathen on Saturday at Kyadondo Rugby Club....
Cheptegei third in Spain cross country
Uganda''s junior athlete Joshua Cheptegei managed a third place finish in the 72th Cross Internacional Juan Muguerza, the sixth IAAF Cross Country Permit meetings, in the Spanish town Elgoibar on Sunday....
Ainemani wins White Horse Inn Open
Entebbe based golfer Abraham Ainemani returned 76 gross to win the Kabale Golf Club, White Horse Inn golf tournament played on Sunday in Kabale....
Some relief for Cricket Cranes
The record will show Uganda humbled Canada by eight wickets with 24.4 overs to spare on the last day of the ICC World Cricket League Division 2 in Namibia....
Is gambling the cause of poverty amomg youth?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter