Football in Nigeria: Is There Life After AFCON 2013?

Football in Nigeria: Is There Life After AFCON 2013?

Super Eagles' victory at the 29th edition of the African Nations Cup (AFCON) hosted by South Africa will continue to bring joy to all Nigerian hearts for a long time to come.

The nation's senior national football team defeated their Burkina Faso counterpart by 1-0 in the final to win the coveted trophy for the third time.

This Sunday's triumph came 19 years after the nation won it in Tunisia in 1994. The difference between this victory and the earlier ones, however, is that it was a totally Nigerian affair - everybody, from the players to the technical crew, was indigenous.

It is also noteworthy that this trophy will be in the nation's custody as it marks its centenary in January 2014. To coach Stephen Okechukwu Keshi and his boys we say, "Thank you for returning Nigeria to the pinnacle of African football."

As the euphoria subsides, we wish to express our reservations about Mr. Issa Hayatou's continued stay in office as president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF). He has occupied that position since 1988 and he is plotting another five-year endorsement during the CAF executive meeting scheduled for Morocco next month.

He is the sole candidate for the office. The implication is that Mr. Hayatou would have occupied that office for 30 years by the time he steps down in 2018. The football associations in the continent should take a critical look at this retrogressive development.

The marketing of CAF activities also calls for an urgent review. Deserving commendation is the Broadcasting Organisation of Nigeria (BON) that called the bluff of the France-based firm that won the right to air the AFCON 2013 matches. Gone are the days any individual or firm would take the country for a ride under the guise of marketing right.

Nigerians might have not viewed the matches on the local television channels, but they were consoled by the fact that their country was not duped of its scarce resources. BON should prepare earnestly to win the right to air MAROC 2015 to the over 160 million Nigerians.

Back home, an inquiry into the face-off that led to the purported resignation of Keshi is necessary. The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) board should desist from imposing on the national teams white coaches who have little or nothing to offer. Also, the NFF should, as a matter of urgency, flag off the 2013/2014 national league.

Already, the take-off is far behind schedule. Its commencement will afford the nation's club sides that are competing in this year's CAF competitions to be better prepared. As the outcome of AFCON 2013 has shown, players in the domestic league are as gifted as their compatriots who are plying their trade overseas.

More importantly, NFF should organise refresher coaching courses for indigenous coaches to update their tactics, especially as the Super Eagles prepare to participate in the world continental championship in Rio, Brazil, in June and in the World Cup next year.


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