The Confederation of African Football’s African Cup Of Nations (AFCON) 2013 has come and gone, with the super eagles of Nigeria crowned the king of African football. In 19 years, this is the first time the eagles will win the cup as the last time they achieved such feat was in the 1994 when the present head coach of the super eagles, Stephen Keshi was the captain on the national side.
I am very sure we are still basking in their euphoria of the win and in celebration mood as football loving Nigerians. The date 10th February, 2013 will remain in the hearts and minds of so many Nigerian because we have craved long for this and it has finally been delivered to us 19 years after.
Nonetheless, achieving such feat didn’t come on a platter of gold, it didn’t come so easy. As a matter of fact, it came with its own fair of criticism, hardwork, determination, focus, dream and aspirations. As I reflect on the path of the super eagles to greatness once more, I discover that their story is actually one to be considered as it has real life lessons for each and every one of us no matter our endeavor Before I enumerate the lessons, let’s take a little insight into Stephen Keshi and the super eagles of Nigeria’s story.
The first week of November 2011 for the football followers will come to mind as the week when the announcement of STEPHEN KESHI as the coach of the super eagles filtered into every part of the country and since then, has been in charge of the super eagles. He qualified the super eagles for the just concluded nations cup held in south Africa with the team and players he met on ground. Then the heavy task of building a team that will be competitive enough at the nations cup started. It obviously took him months to get a crop of young players together for the nations cup.
The journey to the nations cup began on the 9th of January when the Head coach of the super eagles released the list of the 23 players that will be participating in the nations cup. To the amazement and surprise of many Nigerians, he had excluded the so-called big boys of Nigerian football. The already established players who ply their trade in different parts of the world and whom Nigerians were actually seeing as the best Nigeria can produce had not been taken. He had further included the names of 6 fairly known players or better still home-based players (those that ply their football career in Nigeria) and 17 players who will be going to the cup of nations for the first time in their career. This decision by the coaching crew was not easily accepted by Nigerians as we all felt he should have included our big-boys who have gone to the cup of nations before, who have played at different levels, who have experience and who we feel can represent us properly not bunch of inexperienced, young, unknown, home-based players. This didn’t deter the coaching crew who have already made their decision and obviously nothing could be done about it.
On the 19th of January, 2013, the AFCON kicked off and many never gave the super eagles a chance including me (though I loudly support the eagles but inside of my I knew I was just saying all I have been saying because it was my country). The tales of many woes started when the team drew its first and second matches respectively. The criticism started, the analysis rolled out, tongues wagging from different angles, insults and abusive words were used on the super eagles for their seemingly poor performance. As the story goes, the eagles managed to qualify from the group stage and were to meet a very big favourite for the competitions trophy, Cote d’ivoire, but the eagles overcame the obstacle and went further into the competition. Next it was their West African neighbour Mali that confronted them in the semi-final, yet the super eagles won and qualified for the final against Burkina Faso which they successfully won and were crowned the champions of African Football for the third time in history and their first in nineteen years.
Taking a look at the insight of the Super Eagles story to success, they are lessons for us to learn and apply in our various field of lives. I will be picking them one after the other starting from the head coach to the team and finally the fans/Nigerians reactions.
THE CROWD MAY ALWAYS NOT BE RIGHT: with his list for the AFCON 2013 without the big-boys, STEPHEN KESHI was heavily criticized but he was undeterred and believed in his dreams, aspirations and strength. In life, we make certain unpopular decisions because we feel those are the right decisions to make and because they are not what people expect they will say all sorts of things, but be determined to believe In yourself, dreams, aspirations, strength and do not feel weighed down to change. As long as you are convinced that those are the right decision, stick to them. THE CROWD MAY NOT ALWAYS BE THE BEST TO FOLLOW.
ALL THAT GLITTER ARE NOT GOLD: Keshi excluded the big boys from the team that he took to AFCON 2013 because he saw through them that they had nothing to offer compared to raw talents he had. For the fact that somethings have been and people are used to them, it doesn’t make them the best that can be gotten. The way they , certainly not be the way they are so the power of perception and insight should always come to the fore.
DON’T STOP BELIEVING: after the very first two matches, the team was already written off by many Nigerians except a few. Most people never thought they will qualify to the next round but they did. People will give up on you especially when they never gave you a chance from the beginning but it is yours to keep the flame of hope alive by believing in yourself and trusting that you made the right decision. IF IT IS TO BE, IT IS UP TO YOU
PEOPLE ASSOCIATE WITH YOU ONLY AFTER YOUR SUCCESS: the success of the Nigeria Super Eagles shows this in every aspect. At the last minute, when success was looming around Keshi and his infamous team, every body, including those who never believed in him even till the final day started making positive comments about him and the team. Different slogans and graphics were flying from every corner. immediately the final whistle was blown and it dawned on millions of African all across the world that Nigeria will have the bragging right for the next two years, Keshi became a demi-god everywhere. his praise was sang all over the place and nice words were said about him. this only goes to show that nobody values what you do, nobody will give you a chance, nobody will associate with you until you become a success.
Who says u cant achieve against all odds? Keshi did it.
Who says u cant rise again after failing d first time? Super Eagles did it.
Why limiting yourself because of sooth sayings assumptions, excuses, being underrated, challenges etc? Go all out and break a BONE.