A massive cloud of annoyance and disappointment covered all Nigerians following the Super Eagles’ 2-0 loss to Croatia in their opening game at the ongoing FIFA World Cup in Russia.
The disappointment was not just because of the defeat, but also due to the most likely outcome that first result would bring in a week’s time – the infamous “back to the drawing board” quote.
And worse, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) have only gone on to take an action which aptly justifies the heavy disappointment Nigerians already feel coming. For after the Croatia defeat, the Super Eagles players had their winning bonus per match in Russia increased from $10,000 to $15,000.
Firstly, what makes the NFF believe monetary reward is the ultimate motivator? Secondly, even if it were the case, an extra $5,000 would be enough to ginger footballers who earn how much per week?
While not every player is earning a huge amount, majority certainly are paid well – captain Mikel Obi and striker Odion Ighalo play in the lucrative Chinese Super League, while Alex Iwobi, Victor Moses, Wilfred Ndidi, Ahmed Musa (on loan to CSKA Moscow), and Leon Balogun (who just joined Brighton) play in the Premier League and earn well enough.
So, again, the NFF have gone down the wrong path in trying to use monetary reward to get our players to perform well at major competitions. Rather, it is excellent team work that would see the Super Eagles perform well and based on the Croatia game, the team’s technical ability leaves much to be desired.
Rather than financial enticement, the coaching crew led by Gernot Rohr should be tasked with getting the team to put up much better displays going forward and if that includes benching certain players, why not.
Against Croatia, Ighalo was isolated upfront for Nigeria as the midfield and flanks were unable to provide adequate service required for a lone striker to flourish. Also, Mikel Obi was ineffective in the advanced midfield role given, and being the fulcrum of the team, it led to major lack of fluidity and shape in the team.
As a result, the team’s transition in play was non-existent, positional discipline was lacking grossly, and the necessary substitutions to rectify the issues were not made on time.
In all the above, not once did $10,000 not being enough as winning bonus come up. Rather, it is a non-application of the team’s true potential that we have been endured and throwing $5,000 at it would hardly stir any form of motivation.
The NFF, and this is heartening to write, has done the bit it can to get the Super Eagles ready. It is now left to the team entirely to perform or leave millions of Nigerians hugely disappointed.
Sadly, this habit of doing everything but trying to solve the actual issue(s) when it comes to anything Nigeria continues to cripple every opportunity for the country to progress.