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I am writing this on Wednesday night. All 32 teams have been in action in Brazil and we now have a better idea about the state of each of them. In football, morning never quite shows the rest of the day.
Football is living up to its true unpredictable nature.
Who would have foreseen that the defending world champions, the current double European champions and the number one ranked country in the world would also be the first country to book their exit from the 2014 World Cup? Spain’s spectacular losses must truly now mark the end of the golden decade of Tiki-Taka.
For the African teams, except for Nigeria and Ghana, the other results have not been totally unexpected. Nigeria’s failure to defeat Iran and Ghana’s capitulation to USA are considered shocks.
Otherwise, Côte d’Ivoire were expected to defeat Japan, and they did! Cameroon were expected to lose to Mexico and Croatia, and they did a few hours ago, rather woefully. Algeria were not expected to survive Belgium, one of the World Cup favourites, and they did not.
All said, Nigerians here in Brazil are wearing gloomy faces. On the night their Eagles were supposed to shine like a million stars and justify the support lavished on them by the almost full house of spectators at the Arena da Baixada in Curitiba, the Super Eagles could not fly. The drawn match looked to everyone like a loss.
Nigeria’s tactics were wrong. After an initial 25-minutes blitz that did not yield a goal, for the rest of the match the Nigerian team did not know what to do to break down the defensive strategy put in place by Carlos Queiroz, the Iranian coach.
So, Nigerians are flustered and frustrated. Brazilians had nursed the remote hope that the Eagles would temper Argentina a little for them before they meet (if they will ever meet) during the championship.
It is a long shot, but one worth taking. A confrontation between the two South American teams at any point will be akin to a ‘Third World War’!
The manner in which the Super Eagles played, not the result, is what irked everyone, particularly those of us that had boasted that the Super Eagles are made of the sterner stuff and that they can win the 2014 World Cup without the quality and quantity of players theoretically required to do so.
Now, very few are thinking anymore of Nigeria winning the World Cup. The Iranian match has provided a reality check: this assembly cannot win this World Cup, period!
World Cup debutants Bosnia and Herzegovina have now become Nigeria’s Mount Everest, not Argentina!
Stephen Keshi’s competence has again become the subject of endless conversations here in Brazil. Against Bosnia, he must get it right or his fate will be sealed.
Segun Odegbami is a retired Nigerian Footballer who played as a forward. He’s nicknamed Mathematical for his precise style of play. He was famous for running down the touchline with the ball to prevent opponents from getting it. Odegbami is regarded as one of the greatest Nigerian players of all-time… His article culled from Supersports.com
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