Opinion: Super Eagles’ 180 minute journey to Brazil

by Victor Oladapo-Ariyo


 Ever since Stephen Keshi took the Super Eagles job, we all can testify that things have been quite different, especially after the AFCON 2013 in South Africa in February which they won against all odds after starting slowly. 

The international break is here again and most national teams around the world are involved in one match or the other either a crucial qualifier or an international friendly. Thanks to the ‘new’ Super Eagles as Nigeria won’t be left behind in this break’s activities.

The Super Eagles under the tutelage of Coach Stephen Keshi will be trading tackles with ‘Walya Antelopes’ of Ethiopia in the first leg of a FIFA World Cup 2014 qualifier in Ethiopia’s capital city of Addis Ababa on the 13th of October 2013 which happens to be this Sunday.

The aggregate winner of this two-legged affair picks one of the five African tickets to next summer’s FIFA World Cup in Brazil.

Nigeria have played Ethiopia 7 times andhave won 4 of those encounters, drew 2 and lost one (in a qualifier).According to the most recent FIFA rankings, the super eagles areranked 36th in the world and 4th in Africa while Ethiopia is ranked 93rd in the world and a distant 25th in the continent. As usual, withall these facts and statistics the Nigerian boys are favourite onpaper to clinch the qualification ticket to the mundial in Brazil comeJune next year.

Like I said in the previous paragraph that the super eagles have always been the favourite side on paper in most of it’s matches against continental opponents but once in a while they make the paper lie with some embarrassing results. Most soccer loving Nigerians will not erase the memories of the qualifiers for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in which we lost the ticket to the then ‘unknown’ Palanca Negras of Angola. Then, the Super Eagles undermined the powers of the Angolans and they paid bitterly for that. It also happened recently during the qualifiers for the AFCON 2012 in which they drew 2-2 on home soil with the Syli Stars of Guinea to miss out of the tournament.

The first 90 minutes of the 180 minutes journey comes up this sunday in Addis Ababa and going into this match I think I share the same beliefwith most soccer fans in Nigeria that the Super Eagles will progress easily to qualify for the World Cup. I cannot forget how people wereso happy the day the draws were made and announced and we eventually got Ethiopia as our opponents because apart from fans, even renowned sports journalist and soccer pundits were all praying and hoping to get Ethiopia and the god of football answered our prayers. I know even Stephen Keshi and his technical crew would have been very happy in a little corner of their hearts when the draws were announced.

Ever since Stephen Keshi took the Super Eagles job, we all can testify that things have been quite different, especially after the AFCON 2013 in South Africa in February which they won against all odds after starting slowly. The big boss knows that football in Africa has advanced and gotten to the stage that even an island with a population of 3000 people cannot be underrated or underestimated as far as they can field eleven players on the pitch. Keshi knows the Ethiopian team very well having played and scored against them during his playing career for the Eagles. More recently his boys played against the Ethiopians in the group stage of the AFCON 2013 where the Super Eagles defeated them 2 goals to nothing courtesy of two penalty kicks from Victor Moses. The Eagles should beware of the threat posed by the Ethiopians because they are well known for their slick passes and a very solid and talented central midfield.They are a close-knit team and are ready to fight tooth and nail to upset the Eagles and have some pride on their home turf.

As the title of this piece implies, it’s a 180 minutes journey split into two (90 minutes) parts. The Eagles should continue their consistent form in the continent because I believe we have the resources to defeat them over both legs and show them why we are the African Champions. Keshi and his boys will do well if they do not underestimate their East African foes so as not to be dropped off the journey to Brazil in the first part of the 180 minutes ride. I hope and strongly believe that the Super Eagles will qualify for the mundial in Brazil making it our 5th appearance.

Off football now, I want to specially dedicate this piece to my very good childhood friend and sweetheart Ibiyemi Adebukola. Her birthday happens to fall on this weekend (October 11). I’m personally wishing her all the best in her endearvours. She has been one of the few that inspires and supports me in all aspects.


Oladapo-Ariyo Victor tweets from @Twomie

Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

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