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(Opinion) What Super Eagles Must Do To Qualify for 2026 World Cup ~ By Izuchukwu Nwokoma

Many football enthusiasts and followers of Super Eagles of Nigeria and beyond have already felt disappointed after the team failed to defeat the Bafana Bafana of South Africa in a must-win 2026 World Cup Group C qualifiers played on Friday at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

To some, there is still hope that the team handled by former Super Eagles and Ajax Winger, Finidi George, can go all out and clinch the ticket if given time and support. But this can be done if the team can win all their remaining games both home and away, a herculean task it seems, but achievable.

Permutations aside which has been the stock in trade of the Super Eagles over the years, the current crop of Super Eagles players whom many have accused of not showing enough commitment when on national assignment, must realize that it is a privilege to be called upon to represent a country of over 200 million people.

Realising this will no doubt, help the players know the expectations, heartbreaks among others, that Nigerians experience each time they fail to fly. While I will not fail to appreciate the individual brilliance of players like the goalkeeper, Stanley Nwabali who made wonderful saves during the game with the Bafana Bafana, Samuel Chukwueze, Ademola Lookman, Fisayo Dele-Bashiru, among others, but the Finidi George’s tutored side must understand that they must play as a unit.

In club football nowadays, individuals can win games for teams but not in negation of the contributions of fellow team mates. It is indeed an aberration for some Super Eagles players to assume that a tree can make a forest. They must play as a team come Monday, June 10, 2024 when they file out against Benin Republic, a side managed by former Super Eagles handler, Gernot Rohr.

The team must train together, understand the nuances of their fellow team mates which include: the kind of passes to deliver, dribbling abilities among others. The coach Finidi George, though new in the job, must make the right selection and decision. It will be viewed as unseriousnes on his part if, on Monday, he fails to start with a formidable 11 that will give Nigeria victory and revive the country’s hope of qualifying for the next World Cup to be jointly hosted by 16 cities in three North American countries: Canada, Mexico, and the United States.

I will not fail to appeal to Nigerians to give their unwavering support to the Super Eagles and their handlers. There are a lot of potentials in that team. What they need remains time to gel. Having failed to win the Bafana Bafana in Uyo, I am optimistic that the lads now fully understand the precarious situation they are in and the need to redeem their image and stamp their authority in a Group where small Lesotho is at the summit.

As the Super Eagles file out against Benin Republic on Monday, it must be reiterated that victory is sacrosanct while failure to win, might mean that the country has kissed bye to featuring at the 2026 World Cup.

Izuchukwu Nwokoma is a Journalist and Public Affairs Analyst based in Umuahia.
(Email, nwaokomaizuchukwu@gmail.com, phone number: 08038207365)

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