By Jude Atupulazi
The 2018 World Cup has commenced. It was something Nigerians have been long expecting.
Nigeria’s Super Eagles are playing Group D comprising Argentina, Croatia and Iceland, with Nigeria losing her first match 2-0 to Croatia.
It was not the result Nigerians expected, even though the team had not done well in their tune up matches. That defeat attracted much negative comments by Nigerian soccer fans, even though it was just the opening game.
The Eagles were billed to play their second game last Friday before we went to press. It was a match they needed to win, while at least playing a draw with Argentina in their last match.
We however wish to note that regardless of whatever result the Eagles eventually end up with, it is no reason for Nigerians to turn against their team.
Being the youngest team to the tournament, it is surely a team of the future and thus needs the support and encouragement of every Nigerian.
Results may be bad but they often serve as good lessons for the future. At the last world cup in Brazil, the host nation, suffered one of the most embarrassing home defeats in world cup history, going down 7-1 to Germany in the semi-finals, and going ahead to lose 3-0 in the third place match against Holland.
The Brazilian Team was not slayed by their fans. What the country’s soccer authorities did was to return to the drawing board to wring the necessary changes and act on lessons learnt. Today the Brazilian Team is considered among the favourites to win this year’s world cup despite a not-too encouraging start.
Nobody is expecting the Super Eagles to win this world cup and it is therefore expected that those saddled with managing the nation’s football should begin early preparations to sustain whatever little gains that must have been made in this year’s world cup in order to do better next time.
Building a team is a continuous process. It is not easy to build a team. The teams Nigeria are competing against took years to build and some of them are reaping the results of that plan.
Nigerians, therefore need, to understand the need to aid the team by understanding that criticism at this point should be constructive in order to help the coaching crew to seek ways to better the team.
For sure, Nigeria will not win the world cup, but if the country does not sit up and decide to build, we might end up not ever winning it.
Football is a game and because of the way it is structured, losing is a part of it. Winning or losing is part of the make-up, so it behoves the organizers to ensure proper planning to be able to achieve better results.
Our expectation is that lessons have been learnt in the tournament and will be used in working towards making our team better.