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Socialist Democracy Nov - Dec 2005



Nigeria Failure To Qualify

By Victor Osakwe

It is no news that Nigeria will not be at the World Cup tagged Germany 2006. To many Nigerians, the debate on why we failed to qualify continues to attract a lot of comments especially amongst football lovers who have come to think that it is Nigeria's birthright to always be at the most prestigious football event in the world, having participated in it three times consecutively. On the other hand, there is a school of thought that believes that the new entrants from the African continent will spring up surprises during the World Cup. They cite the example, Senegal, which qualified for the first time for the 2002 edition and went farther than the regulars, viz. Nigeria, Cameroon, South Africa and Morocco. They therefore believe that the fact that new countries like Angola, Ghana, Togo and Cote D'Ivoire will be attending for the first time will produce a better result for the African continents than before. But why did Nigeria fail to qualify? Looking at the results of the qualifying matches, Nigeria and Angola were tied with the same point and Nigeria also had a higher goal difference but according to the head to head rule of FIFA, Angola had the upper hand since they defeated Nigeria in Luanda and pulled a draw with the Super Eagles in Kano.

Many Nigerians believe that Nigeria should have qualified instead of Angola and so they have blamed the coach, the sports ministry, the NFA and the footballers themselves. However, a critical look at Nigeria's qualifications in the past shows that there have always been problems. Nigeria has always managed to qualify after the final matches and after relieving the serving coach of his job and employing another. The government suddenly takes very seriously the need to qualify for the competition instead of adequately planning and preparing from the beginning. This time around, the method failed!

The sports ministry, the NFA, the coach and the footballers themselves are the causes of Nigeria's failure to qualify. The undemocratic and top-down approach (which is a remnant of the military rules) is still prevalent in Nigerian football, the corruption of officials in the ministry, NFA and coaches coupled with the high demands of the Nigerian professional footballers themselves are all the problems afflicting and damaging Nigerian football. Even if we succeed in qualifying for the World Cup and also win the African nations cup many times over and all these problems are not tackled from the roots, we will continue to see our football more in jerks and fits.



Socialist Democracy Nov - Dec 2005