Are Super Eagles Getting Carried Away?
After the scintillating 4:2 victory over ex-world champions Argentina in a high profile international friendly match earlier this month, ever green left full back Elderson Echiejile was quoted as saying: "we can actually dispose of any team at the world cup without fear or jittery".
Whilst it is easy - and indeed fun - to bask in the euphoria of the moment, particularly after the manner in which the Super Eagles qualified for the World Cup undefeated, the past however paints a very different picture.
For all the magical moments Nigeria have had in the previous 5 world cup tournaments they participated in, one significant failing stands out like a sore thumb. This is our continuous inability to beat the best teams in the world.
A lot has been written and said about the successful Super Eagles team of the early 1990s. At the World Cup in USA'94, Nigeria came against 2 legendary former world cup champions, Argentina and Italy. Both games ended in defeats for the Super Eagles.
In 2002, Argentina and England - both former world cup champions - claimed a victory and a draw respectively from the Onigbinde-tutored Eagles.
In 2014, the Super Eagles failed to defeat former world cup champions - Argentina and France thereby somehow setting a record of never having won a former world champion team in any world cup tournament.
France '98 World Cup was somewhat of an exception as, against all odds, Bora Milutinovic's Eagles came from behind to stun Spain 3:2 in the group stages. What must be factored however is that the Spain of those days were perennial under-achievers who had never won the world cup.
So, if we are to draw from the past performances against the cream of the crop at past world cup tournaments, then Echiejile's comments should be greeted with cautious optimism.
Perhaps, what is without question is the left full back's sentiments that: "this could be our time; right now, we have things going well in the team...."