After the 1-0 defeat of Zambia at the Godswill Akpabio stadium in Uyo our nerves were at ease. That success announced our qualification for the 2018 World Cup in Russia with one qualifier to spare. The players joyfully tossed their coach in the air like a ball but they did not let him drop on the floor like a coin. Those of us who were in no position to toss the coach, Gernot Rohr in the air can simply toss our hats (and wigs) in grateful appreciation of that achievement.
When it occurred to Nigerians that the Super Eagles were in the same group as Algeria, Cameroon and Zambia there was some bit of teeth-gnashing and no songs of happiness. Our competitors in the group had counted us out before the first ball was kicked. Their view was that even though we won the African Cup of Nations in 2013 we had failed to qualify for the next two consecutive tournaments after that. So our football had gone downhill and in a group labeled the group of death we had no chance at all. The challenge was truly gargantuan.
After the turbulence of the Sunday Oliseh days and stories of salaries not paid, or lodged or vouchers missing many football glitterati may have come to the conclusion that we may watch the excitement, drama and the insanity of the 2018 finals without the Super Eagles on parade. Now our young and old lads will be on parade when the whistle goes off. As an icing on the cake the existential issues such as allowances and bonuses have been decided. The coaches are not likely to go on strike because of non-payment of salaries. A patriotic and football loving company, Aiteo, has graciously agreed to pick up the bills and make our Russia trip hassle-free. The boys seem ready to bring frissons of passion into the game as the coach begins the build-up of a quality team.
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