Brazil Diary: Season of retirements

After spending quite a bit of my time in Brazil, traversing the country side, eye candy and all, I have been thinking a lot.

The thoughts come especially with Nigeria’s failure to go past France in the Round of 16.

I watched my first Super Eagles game in 1983, an Olympic Games qualifier against Morocco that ended via penalty shoot outs and I have not looked back since then.

I saw the failure to win the AFCON in 1984, 1988, 1990, 1992, 2000, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010.

I saw the failure to qualify for the AFCON in 1986 and 2012.

I saw the withdrawal from the AFCON by the Sani Abacha led government in 1996 and the subsequent CAF ban that kept us away from the AFCON in 1998.

Of course I saw the AFCON wins in 1994 and 2013.

I also saw as Tunisia stopped Nigeria from qualifying for the World Cup in 1985, Cameroon in 1989 and Angola in 2005

I saw the World Cups in 1994, 1998, 2002 and 2010. I had seen previous World Cups without Nigeria in 1982, 1986 and 1990.

So I must say I have had a fulfilled life as a football writer, covering Nigerian football and the Super Eagles. I have seen it all.

I have what is unarguably Nigeria’s biggest football blog that has kept me busy so with the Super Eagles’ ouster from the World Cup I came to a decision.

Retirement from the game

It’s time to retire from this football writing thing. It’s time to stop chasing footballers for exclusive interviews.

It’s time to stop carrying a midget (voice recorder) in my pocket for the next interview session.

It’s time to stop covering the Nigerian league which I have done with glee since 1985 while in secondary school.

It’s time to go back home, have a discussion with my wife and decide on the next line of action for me to take in my career.

It’s time to look for a new challenge, some breath of fresh air after doing the same thing over and over again for three decades.

Because this is the season of retirements/ resignations

Just after that game against France, I watched my friend, Oluwashina Okeleji ask Nigeria’s coach, Stephen Keshi what he had next for himself and the man said he didn’t know yet.

A few hours later, the social media went gaga with reports that Keshi had resigned because he wanted a new challenge and most people think that new challenge is the South Africa job.

Within the same time frame, we watched youtube clips of captain, Joseph Yobo saying he was calling time on his international career.

Just like me in journalism, Yobo had served time with the national team.

From that AFCON qualifier against Zambia in Chingola in March 2001 that ended 1-1 to that World Cup 2nd round game against France in Brazilia that ended 0-2, Yobo served the country well for thirteen years and deserves to leave with his head held high, the own goal against France notwithstanding.

Another story that broke was that of Vincent Enyeama (we also saw Youtube clips) where he said he was going to discuss with his wife and see if he could take some time off National team duties.

Funny, Osaze Odemwingie is yet to say anything on international retirement.


What next after retirement?

My retirement or those of Keshi, Yobo and Enyeama?

Of course I still have the World Cups in 2018 and 2022 before I retire so it has to be the Super Eagles.

Well, for Keshi, I think the issue is not if he goes or not, because he was never going to stay forever.

The issue is what next for the Super Eagles?

Continue with Dan Amokachi? I’m sure he must have learned a lot from Keshi in three years.

That is the German model and it has worked for them so far. Maybe we should try it but that is a blog post for another day.

For Joseph Yobo, he needed to go anyway. Thirteen years, 5 AFCONs, one trophy and 3 World Cups is enough to retire with a smile on your face for.

And thanks to Keshi, he prepared Kenneth Omeruo and Godfrey Oboabona for Nigerians.

There are also Kunle Odunlami, Azubuike Egwueke and Efe Ambrose who is naturally a center back.

The major problem will be Vincent Enyeama hinting retirement from the national team.

Just like Taiwo Ogunjobi and co went to shamelessly beg Yakubu Aiyegbeni to come out of international retirement, this should be the first task for the new Nigerian national team manager as Austin Ejide and Chigozie Agbim do not in any way inspire confidence of Nigerians.

The only way for Nigerian is forward as Stephen Keshi laid down the right template for success for whoever takes over.

Before Keshi in 2011, the likes of Kenneth Omeruo, Godfrey Oboabona, Juwon Oshaniwa, Ogenyi Onazi, Ramon Azeez, Gabriel Rueben, Victor Moses, Uche Nwofor and Ejike Uzoenyi were not in the picture.

Now just like he said in 2011, we have alternatives for the national team and he has given us a team to be proud of.

The NFF must chart the right path because the AFCON qualifiers start in less than two months.


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