On the 29th of March 2016, Nigerian football sank to an all time low as the Super Eagles lost 1:0 to Egypt effectively eliminating them from qualifying for the second consecutive African Cup of Nations competition.
Nigerian football fans could see no light at the end of the tunnel as, if Nigeria could not qualify for the African Cup of Nations from a group that comprised of Chad, Tanzania and an over-hyped Egypt, how in this world could they qualify for the World Cup from a group of sharks made up of heavy weights of African football - Cameroun, Algeria and Zambia?
Gloomy days laid ahead!
What a difference 20 months can make, though. The appointment of a world class coach; crisis-free world cup qualifying campaign; world cup qualification with a game to spare!; organising a world class friendly match against former world champions; and an emphatic 4:2 victory against former world champions in the friendly match (on the 14th of November 2017) - Super Eagles supporters must be on cloud 9.
The players have received a lot of attention and praises, so has the coaching staff. However the focus of praise in this article goes to the Nigerian Football Federation. Much vilified, much criticised but on this occasion, let us give credit to where it is due and say well done NFF!
The news in the media recently about a code of conduct orchestrated by the NFF between the players and authorities to ensure that an agreement is reached and cast in stone about payment of bonuses and fees leading up to and during the World Cup fiesta is really heartwarming.
That is an organisation learning from the past, channelling the present, to shape the future and deliver positive outcomes to all concerns.
Please recall, bonus and fees related disputes contributed (some will say, led) to the shambles of France '98 when Nigeria lost disgracefully to European underdogs Denmark 4:1 in the second round of the World Cup. Cash issues also led to distractions leading up to the last world cup in Brazil 2014. In fact, bonus payment issues have plagued African football generally in major tournaments.
Also, so that Nigeria can line up and play World Class, World Cup-preparatory friendly matches early next year, the NFF lobbied CAF to push forward African Cup of Nations qualifying matches scheduled for that period - wow!
For all the criticisms that have come the way of the NFF in the past, this time around, they are taking steps in the right direction.