By Alphonsus E.W
The team exhibited class, team work, skill, tenacity and excellence in the manner they dispatched opponents who fate brought their way en route winning the prestigious trophy for a record-breaking fourth time.
Right from the outset when this team was in its embryonic stage, it was evident to all who had at one point or the other watched the team play that this was one of the best cadet teams that the country had assembled in a long while.
While the country revels in the euphoria of the team’s spectacular showing at the global soccer fiesta, it is imperative to consider some important lessons for national development which can be derived from the Golden Eaglets’ victory.
There is no gainsaying the fact that soccer is a veritable national unifying factor. The composition of the team was an admirable mix of talents from all sections of the country.
From Dele Alampasu, whose superlative reflexes and world-class saves earned him the Golden Gloves as the best keeper of the tournament, to the brilliant Kelechi Iheanacho who dazzled and sparkled to emerge as the Player of the tournament to Musa Yahaya whose trickery reminded one of a certain Andres Iniesta to the captain of the side, Musa Muhammed whose marauding runs down the flanks gave opposing defenders a torrid time in addition to an eye-catching posse of Chidiebere Nwakali, Idowu, Okon, Godwin, Awoniyi, and Abubakar, every region of the country was ably represented in this team.
While that was an indication that the Garba Manu led technical team combed the country in search of talents, it also shows that this country possesses the human capital to be among the best in the world in every area of human endeavor.
Who says Nigeria can not attain greatness? Who says Nigeria cannot be mentioned in the same breath as Brazil, Spain, USA, UK, Germany and France? The diversity of the country should be utilized to become an area of strength.
Amidst calls in some sections that the country be divided along ethno-regional and religious fault lines, the Golden Eaglets’ triumph shows that the country can achieve more if everyone puts in their shift and pull collectively towards the promised land of national development.
The Government should pay more than scant attention to the growth of soccer in Nigeria. Apart from rewarding successful teams at major international competitions, Government needs to pay attention to the provision of facilities at the grassroots level to enable the nurturing of talents, a pool from which national team coaches can always draw from to represent the country at international meets.
Nigeria lacks a culture of maintenance as can be seen from the various facilities built for national growth and development which have suffered neglect and fallen into disrepair. Cases abound which include; the National Theatre in Iganmu, the Adamasingba Stadium in Ibadan, the National Stadium in Surulere, Lagos to mention just but a few.
Efforts should made to keep this bunch of lads together as they represent Nigeria’s best chance of global dominance in football in the next few years. Our culture of poor maintenance should be jettisoned in the case of these boys. They should be groomed to take over from the likes of Austin Okocha, and Kanu Nwankwo who dazzled fans with their supreme football artistry because they have shown signs of been world beaters.
Plans should immediately be put in place to ensure that it is this same group of players who would represent Nigeria at both the U-20 and U-23 levels. The technical crew should be left intact in order to ensure continuity because if any other coach is drafted in, he would most probably undo the good work done by his predecessor.
Care should be taken that these boys do not fall prey to unscrupulous characters masquerading as football agents whose only interest in them is how to make money off them without scouting for good clubs where they would be assured of been nurtured and subsequently brought through the ranks and gain playing time when the time is ripe.