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Monday, 11 February 2013

WHAT GEJ CAN LEARN FROM THE EAGLES

As the Super Eagles, the Nigerian football team, attempt to put the "Super" back to the "Eagles", it would be disingenuous of Nigerians to say they predicted triumph at the African Cup of Nation,  AFCON, South Africa, 2013. Social media pundits - professional and amateur - obviously did not see victory coming. But Goodluck Jonathan, the Nigerian President, believes there are lessons to be learnt.

GOOD POLITICS, THEN ECONOMICS

The deplorable state of the country's football could be said to be a reflection of the state of the nation. Poor preparations and issues of payment of wages did not do well to inspire confidence in the team. Also, the selection and exclusion of big names like Peter (Osaze) Odewingie, Obafemi Martins and Shola Ameobi, stirred up controversies. Keshi showed wit in his decision to make trade-offs between experience and youth. 

The Super Eagles had failed to qualify for last year's edition of AFCON, not to mention the disastrous outing at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, accompanied by a decade of under achievement and poor performance  However,  this is not a treatise or an attempt at soccernomics (the economics of football) or governance, but for what this victory is worth, to show how courageous leadership and decision making are key in ensuring performance as well as cohesion in the team. 

Let this blog be clear, no elbows are being thrown. 


PERSEVERANCE MEETS OPPORTUNITY 

Nigerians are arguably the best at perseverance. The first two matches during the group stages were shameful. The team lacked a strategy, shape and structure. The third group match showed what could happen when perseverance meets opportunity. The highly undisciplined Ethiopian side handed the Super Eagles a free pass into the quarter-finals. It is safe is to assume that the game against Ivory Coast, showed the importance of what courageous leadership could do to a team. Stephen Keshi, the coach and former captain of the Super Eagles, has now become the second person to lift the AFCON  as a coach and player. To this blog, this is vacuous. The most important thing is that he was able to shape the team when it mattered the most. In all fairness, even with the disappointing group stage matches, Nigerians still showed faith in his leadership. 

This blog will desist from attributing such an achievement to God (to the dismay of Nigerians), not due to the lack of belief or faith (both in abundance) but, because it is simplistic and lacklustre. AFCON 2013, is didactic because it shows that even though cohesion and strong leadership might be lacking in governance today, but just as Keshi and his team were made to know, the hope and faith of the nation, 170 million strong, was on them. 

This blog assumes that GEJ would be good at deducing and drawing parallels. The President was quick to release a statement advising Nigerians on exemplary service to the nation. Here is one for him - courageous experiments work; stop pussyfooting. After all, he started it.