Who is distracting the Super Eagles?

I am not in South Africa for the AFCON 2013. I plan to go and may still go in time for the semi finals but thank God for technology I am able to see what goes on there as though I am present.

I have watched the Super Eagles play against Burkina Faso on Television; I have watched clips of their training sessions on TV too and I have seen photographs of their training sessions.

Then the team has a media officer, Ben Aliya who sends emails on almost daily basis so we get to know a lot of what happens in the camp and it is based on this I am asking who is distracting the Super Eagles?

Certainly not the South African ladies and I am sure our players have not had close contact with the Ethiopian girls yet (I have been to Ethiopia before and their girls? You can write a book on them).

I also know the players have not gone clubbing yet. That will only happen after their third group match whether the team qualifies for the quarter finals or not.

So who on earth is distracting the Super Eagles?

Enter Faro training camp

On January 8, 2013, a press statement sent via email from the team’s media officer said Nigeria’s sports minister and chairman of the National Sports Commission, Mallam Bolaji Abdulahi was in Faro to visit the team whilst they prepared for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with Nigeria’s sports boss visiting the national team of the country before a major championship, is there?

But let us read on.

The subject of that email was “Minister trains with Eagles ahead of Cape Verde friendly”

A part of that press release is reprinted below

Sports Minister,  Mallam Bolaji Abdulahi, who came into the Faro, Portugal camp of the national team at noon on Tuesday, underlined his youthfulness as he still find time to be at the team’s training session, at 3:30pm Portuguese time (4:30pm Nigeria), observing every move of the players and the Stephen Keshi led technical crew.

Also present with the minister was the Director, Elite Athletes in the Sports Ministry, Dr Bolaji Ojo-Oba, the minister took time to make a personal observation and declared that he was encouraged to come and watch the team in Faro, Portugal, after a superlative performance against the Catalan Selected side, which the Eagles held to a 1-1 draw in Barcelona last Wednesday.

I need to ask again, did the sports minister really train with the Super Eagles in Faro? A team preparing for a major competition? Why exactly? At what time did he train with them? While they should have been doing their own training and perfecting strategies for the AFCON?
What point was he trying to prove? Was it his youthfulness?

Okay, let’s move on

January 9, Faro

In another email, titled, Eagles Will Lack Nothing At SA 2013-Abdulahi

The sports minister addressed the team assuring them that they won’t lack anything and I will just print a part of the message

Sports Minister, Mallam Bolaji Abdulahi, has assured that the Super Eagles will lack nothing in terms of welfare at the forthcoming South Africa 2013 Nations Cup.

Addressing the players and officials in company of Director of Elite Athletes, Dr Bolaji Ojo-Oba and NFF President Alhaji AMinu Maigari, Abdulahi said that President Goodluck Jonathan approved all his requests for a successful outing at the Nations Cup. “ I want to win the Nations Cup as a Minister, you the players also want to win the championship, but I may not achieve my aim if you the players don’t think you need to win the championship”, he said rhetorically.

The Minister said he believes there is no team as talented as the Nigerian side in the coming championship and again reminded the players to give Nigeria and President Jonathan a New Year present by winning the championship with the talents available.

NFF President Aminu Maiagari thanked the Minister for finding time in his tight schedule to visit the team in camp saying he knows the workload of the Minister and he was sure that the team will not let Nigerians down at the SA 2013 championship.

Now there is nothing really wrong in the country’s sports boss giving a team some words of encouragement but the frequency of it distracts the team.

Having worked with a football team in competition before I know the players live a regimented life and every time of their day is planned for.

They are either eating, or sleeping or training or just allowed to lay on their beds, I’m sure you get the picture but who can stop the minister from addressing the boys if he went all the way from Nigeria to Faro in Portugal to do that? Did it really matter what the players were doing at the time he visited?

Remember that a day earlier he had trained with the team and the next he was addressing them.

January 23, Nelspruit

Now the team has arrived in South Africa and has played one game against Burkina Faso which of course we all know ended in a draw.

In preparation for the Super Eagles’ next game against Zambia, the minister and his entourage went visiting the team again.

This time two days to the duel against Zambia and what was it like?

I will just reprint a portion of the press statement.

…Abdulahi, Maigari Motivate Team

..As training progressed, NFF President, Alhaji Aminu Maigari arrived with, Vice President, Chief Mike Umeh, Media Committee Chairman, Chief Emeka Inyama, Finance Committee Chairman, Shehu Adamu, two other Executive Committee members and NFF Director, Technical, Dr Emmanuel Ikpeme to watch the session.

After training Maigari took time off to address the players and assure them that the nation still expects them to do well at the championship, despite drawing the first game against Burkina Faso…

…Just as Maiagri was rounding off his address, Sports Minister and Chairman of the National Sports Commission, Hon Bolaji Abdulahi called in and spoke to the players on speaker phone. Like a general addressing his troops, he told the players to forget the game against the Burkinabes and focus on its remaining group games as the tournament has proven to be one full of surprises. “The entire country from President Goodluck Jonathan down to the pepper seller in the remotest part of Nigeria is solidly behind you”, he said.

Now do we still need to ask who is distracting the Eagles? Do we have to address them after every other training session? After addressing them in Nigeria, in Faro and on arrival in South Africa, don’t the players know the task at hand?
Telling them that everyone who sells pepper in the remotest part of Nigeria is solidly behind them?  

Knowing the antecedents of Nigeria’s footballers especially when the wins begin to come and when the team qualifies for the quarter finals, the camp commandant will have a tough job to do stopping the South African, Ethiopian and Nigerian girls from getting close to the players.

But has anyone asked who stops all these government officials from visiting the players and telling them about pepper and garri sellers all over the country?

I am only just thinking aloud. I guess the English teacher calls that “Soliloquizing”

Keshi’s birthday bash

I hear the coach of the Super Eagles had a low key birthday celebration a few days ago. He turned 51.

I thank God he also said he was not an age cheat and is actually 51.

He also did little or nothing on his birthday because of the big task at hand but here’s hoping that the players give him a big birthday present  by beating Zambia’s Chipolopolo on Friday.

 Pic: Super Eagles players waiting to be addressed by the Minister in Abuja
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  1. Hmmmm... China! China!! how many times I call you? :)

  2. Oga china...hahaha mayb na zambia babes dey distract dem

  3. Just wait until they beat Zambia, that is when you will see the main distraction, because then the president, first lady, 36 Governors, their wives, pastors and all political B..... will visit, call, address, pray and prophesy for them.