There have been ups and downs in Nigeria Football, starting from the era when we were called the red devils in the 1940s, conquering of Africa in 1980, missing out of 1982 world-cup through an own goal, the golden era a decade after, winning the 1994 African Cup of Nations, qualifying for USA 1994, overcoming the world in Atlanta, USA, qualifying for the six World Cups in seven editions, failing to qualify for 2006 world cup, winning the AFCON in 2013, placing third at the 2016 Olympics and also facing some many disappointments while some coaches were at the reins.
Here, we will be looking into the past, present and the future of Nigerian Football. Our football administrative leaders looks to have lost sight of the past and how we were able to make it big and it is coming back to hunt us, but this series will help look into what has gone wrong and what is going on in Nigeria Football.
The past of Nigeria Football is inarguably the glorious years of Nigerian football because majority of our achievements as a footballing nation occurred in the past like winning our first African Cup of Nations, qualifying for the World Cup and winning the Olympics in Atlanta. However, it was a bitter-sweet experience as we faced challenges, times we wept, times we feared for the worst. At times heartbroken, ask most of our parents. They all have a story to tell about the green eagles or super eagles. From missing out of the 1963 World Cup till the 1990 World Cup, before the Nation, through the golden age of Nigerian Super Eagles were able to qualify for the world cup in 1994. Talk about missing three AFCON trophies to a sole enemy, Cameroon and many more.
Nigeria had had many issues even in the past that made the then eagles unsuccessful and unknown. The first World Cup was staged at Uruguay in the year 1930 and Nigeria was able to qualify 64 years later and we won the first African Cup of Nations in Nigeria in 1980. We will be examining the causes of this elongated success,
First is the issue of media coverage and support, we did not get to watch them more often play to offer them support, be it physical and financial. We lacked enough technology to watch the eagles like what we see these days. Also, the issues of support especially financial, enough money is not invested in the national team and we have had series of struggle and demonstration for pay and incentives, example was what we saw at South Africa in 2013.
Corruption is known as the bed rock of Nigeria problems and even the National team is not exempted. We also have the problem of maladministration and even Nigeria Greatest coach, Clement Westerhof made his grievance known “We had a situation where we had the wrong people in the wrong places, even in the (Nigeria) FA”. He continued by saying “We had cases where players paid money to the coach and said ‘I want to play for the national team’ and the coach would accept. They bought their way into the national team and it was an unbelievable situation. Very sad. I know these things”. Nigeria football team and administration were corrupt and players were about to buy their way into the National team.
Favouritism was the order of the day, wrong set of people were at the helm of affairs as Westerhof had claimed and we never looked like we were headed the Promised Land like this then. The administrators were biased and earnestly corrupt and that stalled our progress as a country in the footballing world.
Coach selection inconsistency is another problem that beset Nigeria football. Since 1960, Nigeria have had at least a new coach every 2 years and we have had 20 foreign coaches since 1949. What time do these coaches have to spend with these players and consistently find a suitable formation and tactics for the team? The rate at which coaches were changed was very alarming and should have been looked into. The most successful coach we ever had was concurrently to longest reigning Coach Nigeria have had, that enough signifies that time has a positive relationship with success.
Insubordination and dispute among players as evident in our fall against Italy in USA 1994 and reported by the Late Rasheed Yekini when he said, “I have always been against this coach (Westerhof)… It is no secret that I don’t like him and he doesn’t like me. I tried to go against him long ago, but my teammates did not support me. As a result, I was played out of the game. I never saw the ball”. Nigeria football past was a very eventful one and filled with controversy.
Having looked at our past already and things that transpired in the past of Nigerian Football, it is very important to learn somethings and put them into practice. Catch you again next week as we examine the present of Nigerian football and compare it with our past.

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