The homebased Super Eagles have finally started their journey of making Nigeria proud in the next CHAN and WAFU competitions by training to take on Mexico in the July 4 friendly.
The next African Nations Championship will hold in Algeria in January 2023 while the next WAFU was actually scheduled for Nigeria this year. The homebased Super Eagles are generally expected to qualify for and participate in both events.
The Super Eagles “B” had been woefully unsuccessful in these tournaments in recent times having failed to qualify for the last CHAN tournament held in Cameroon this year. Back then, the Nigeria Professional Football League was often stop-start, perhaps more of stops than starts and league matches weren’t shown on television.
But things are looking promising this season as the current campaign has been running to schedule with games available live on the revolutionary NPFL app and on telly.
The quality of the football on display has steadily improved with games becoming more interesting to watch.
As per continental football, Nigerian club-sides are still blowing cold air with their brand of football not yet compelling enough to turn them into the force they once were at that level. This sees them crashing out early in CAF competitions after being made to look amateurish by their more technically grounded and tactically astute continental counterparts.
But at least homebased players are now fit, active and match ready for national assignments. When the domestic season in Nigeria runs to schedule, homebased players perform well in Super Eagles colours. They came runners up in WAFU and CHAN competitions of 2017 and 2018 respectively.
Contrary to views held in certain quarters, there are genuine talents in the domestic scene. Sadly, sub-standard coaching, archaic equipment, poor facilities, meager remuneration and poor grilling and atrocious playing conditions are a few of the factors that do not allow domestic talents to be adequately unlocked, harnessed and groomed to higher levels.
Also, the league is not attracting enough younger talents as these ones are finding their way from academies straight to Europe. Most of the players available for selection from the NPFL can only expect to be at optimum level for just a few years as they are already either at their peak or way past their prime. Which is why I will always say that what we find in the NPFL are STS (short term solutions) players.
Short or long term, these players will be eager to prove their worth against Mexico in the friendly in July. Questions are being asked about the inclusion and exclusion of certain players but this is not unusual with the release of any squad lists.
I am expecting an open and exciting game that should make good viewing for the neutrals. This Super Eagles have nothing to prove as they have already been written off by a large section of their own fans. This should have the effect of making them play with freedom and vitality.
Whatever happens, this homebased Super Eagles should not be overawed.