Categories: Football, Sports Development
Written By: Olusegun Odegbami
Permit me to digress a little!
Two things have come to the fore since watching the semi-final match that produced Cameroon.
The first is that we can start to glimpse a new course in the Group of Death for the African qualifiers for the 2018 World Cup involving Algeria (failed woefully at Afcon 2017), Cameroon (rose dramatically to the fore in Afcon 2017) and Nigeria (did not qualify for Afcon 2017).
Following the disillusionment and disappointment of a catastrophic outing in Gabon (leaving after the group stage matches without winning a single match) Algeria may not rise again and pose a serious challenge in the rest of the qualifying matches for the World Cup. The burden may be too much to overcome in time to still overtake and head the group ahead of Cameroon and Nigeria.
It is Cameroon that have now totally disrupted the initial computations and calculations before Afcon 2017 that was almost handing representation from the group to Nigeria!
It was a temporary lapse in memory to have assumed such a position with two matches against Cameroon still to be played. The Cameroon national team did not earn the sobriquet ‘indomitable’ from such casual assumptions.
Here is a team saturated in the tradition of never giving up, of uncommon determination and fighting spirit, a nightmare for most opponents around the world for their very physicality, pace and power.
To play against Cameroon, anywhere and anytime, is to come face to face in a bruising battle with a hard-fighting machine that no team confronts and departs unscathed and unscarred.
They are a well-oiled team with a reputation that has flourished anew at Afcon 2017.
The team has grown and improved steadily match after match in quality of individual player’s performances and general team tactics, particularly since arriving the quarter-finals and deservedly earning the right to become worthy finalists and serious contenders for the coveted title of African Champions.
With the growth of the Indomitable Lions the fate of the Super Eagles of Nigeria and their quest to be at the World Cup in Russia now hangs on a delicate balance. It can no longer be considered a fait accomplice even by the most optimistic and fanatical of the country’s supporters.
Unlike the feelings a few months ago when the Eagles resurged and started to win important matches, and the Lions were struggling and fumbling, things have changed dramatically in the past two weeks.
The Indomitable Lions are back!
This is now boldly written across the face of Afcon 2017.
The Lions now pose the most serious threat to the Eagles’ march to Russia!
The two countries will be playing against each other over two legs in the coming months and whilst the confidence of the Cameroonians may be boosted by their performance during Afcon, the confidence of Nigerians may be badly shaken by the same factor – the emergence of a new set of Lions from the shadows of a fading, ageing generation that existed and they were used to before Afcon 2017.
These new cubs are young, fit, very compact, determined and a team in the true sense of the word. They will pose a real threat to the Super Eagle when they start their battles in the next few months.