Date Published: 07/01/10
Why Nigeria Crashed out of the World Cup By Nwokedi Nworisara
After Nigeria drew her last match with South Korea 2-2 and crashed out of the on going World Cup in South Africa, I was inundated the queries as to why my prediction for a successful outing went bad. Some wanted me to do post scrip to analyze properly what happened. Somehow I am a bit taken aback by these expectations. Inwardly I was elated that my small efforts are noticed. However it all goes to bring out our collective weaknesses as a country. Mark you I have not chosen the word ‘Nation’. The word would be akin to a lie if used in this context. Nevertheless, if we can learn something from our exit; from this collective success in pulling defeat out of the very jaw of victory in South Africa like almost always in most matters, then we have something to cheer about for the future.
In my rather satirical report “Nigerian Youths Bond Together for World Cup Glory “I departed from analyses and therefore predictions to reporting what happening as Nigeria was prepared for World Cup in South Africa. I had to submit myself in other to fully convey the prevailing spirit and expectation of the youths. Deep inside me I wished it could come true that for instance Nigeria prevailed over Argentina in the first match which ended 0-1 in favor of Argentina in Johannesburg. But I had already predicted or rather preferred somewhere else an Argentine advance into final stages for obvious reasons of the Leonel Messi phenomenon. More so since our own star Mikel Obi was already out of the show.
As for what happened I think it should have been obvious to viewers but just in case anyone is in doubt here is it. Nigeria was not a team because Nigeria is not yet a Nation. The Nigerian tem assembled for the World cup were selected for other reasons rather than for excellence. Each player was selected for a reason that may not coincide with the country’s purpose if there was any. We didn’t go to South Africa to win the World cup because we always talked of a semi- final appearance as our highest goal. On the other hand Ghana came with a vision of winning the cup. Other teams have the same aim and you often see their fans holding and displaying a copy of the World Cup. You can only achieve your wildest dram and nothing higher. It is a spiritual law. Most of our players came to show off so they can get bigger clubs to hire their services. The coaches may have cashed in on this to demand percentages of the big moves that result from such exposures. The Football Association officials could have been interested in the quota selection of players because they bear the pressure from the political leadership since they were picked via same system. The system is always only bent on making a statement by fielding quota boys. You know it would be embarrassing that no member of our religion is seen representing Nigeria in such a global arena even when we claim to be majority. So the player’s selection is a lobby game just like voting in Nigeria, most times the players are already known and list given to the coach to ratify if he wants his salary.
Somehow the last coach has this name and contractual terms that could have made anyone stay behind. He was ostensibly to coach Nigeria for 5 months going into the world cup month with salaries paid upfront. There was no mention of his retaining his position after the World Cup at least to give him something to hope for. Even the veteran captain Nwankwo Kanu was to retire after the last game. Everything was predictable and as you saw them play as if nothing was at stake because everything has been paid for, signed and delivered. Everybody except the fans waited the final whistle ‘because their wildest dreams had been achieved -being permitted to Yakubu’ Nigeria out of the World cup-as one report put it. It was always to be a mutually agreed squander of chances and resources.
Politicians were divided about what Nigeria should achieve in the tournament. Some were pissed off that the President wanted to launch his speculated run for office through a “good luck” victory in South Africa. So as usual opposition arose within as some groups could have worked or prayed for losses. How else can you explain those near misses and turn around delivered to Nigeria on a platter of red cards and injuries?
Well my analyses will not follow superstition here. Nigeria is not a nation and has no organic purpose to build a cohesive team. The only thing that keeps the Nigerian team going is money and that is what tears them apart at such times. It is the same way that Petroleum money bonds us together in the fight for supremacy over who controls it. How Nigeria moves is similar to what Yakubu did at the six yard box. Wasted chances, wasted talents, and wasted hopes. You could see the team going round in circles instead of purposefully attacking the goal awaiting until they fall behind which then provides them a tonic through the fear of possible loss of award money to bond together and seek an equalizer or a win but always too late in the day. Everything is just for show. The team has nothing to lose, not even the fans outrage.
Some of us have been pointing out for long that the Nigerian constitution will not allow Nation building to endure. We shout and cry but often are seen as unpractical. Well the World cup has revealed the potential of Nigeria for greatness but also the poverty of organization, leadership and purposelessness of our joint efforts. The most painful is the waste of resources, the inability to procure the best talents for National assignments because of other intervening variables. Until Nigeria restructures out of divisive policies towards nationhood made possible by uniform laws or value system, nationhood will continue to elude her and the gory details will always present themselves to the discerning on the football field especially during World cup tournaments as the South African example shows.
Mr Nworisara aspired to be President of Nigeria in 1992.