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2013 Africa Cup of Nations and expectations of Nigeria By Ogu Macdonald, Esq

Nigeria football followers were delighted on the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) ticket which the Super Eagles secured after losing out in the competition last year. The delight came from the fact that they earned the Nations Cup ticket in an amazing fashion by beating Liberia 6-1 in the second and final qualifying match played in Calabar. The victory had ensured that the flag of the nation will be hoisted in South Africa come January. There is no doubt that Nigeria’s participation in the AFCON will boost both the economy and social life of the average Nigerian.

Nigeria’s absence in the last tournament was a huge economic and social loss to the country. Had the Eagles participated in the tournament, it would have earned the nation over one billion dollars in sponsorship and advertisement deals from corporate bodies and ginger other economic activities. Corporate organizations like MTN, Glo. Airtel, Etisalat and other network providers find it convenient to place product, corporate and goodwill adverts while the Eagles are playing. These adverts amount to several million dollars. Also, beverage companies, Nigerian Breweries, Nestle have their own contributions to make in sponsorship and advert placement during matches involving the senior national team. All these contributions boost the economy in one way or the other.

Beside this, for a country like Nigeria that is regarded as the power house of Africa soccer failing to participate in a tournament that comes up every two years always has negative impact on the development of the game. It is a widely held view that each tournament introduces new stars and once a country like Nigeria fails to participate such stars are denied the opportunity to participate and talented players could be missed out.

Social life of Nigerians gets uplifted during this period as many soccer lovers have opportunity to converge on relaxation centres to discuss and consume some drinks while the game lasts.

Apart from these factors, the question should be asked, what is the way forward for the national team coach and his crew ahead of the tournament? Head coach of the Super Eagles, Stephen Keshi has voiced his sentiments following the draws for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations. Nigeria will need to overcome Burkina Faso, Ethiopia and the reigning champions, Zambia if they are to reach the quarter-finals of the competition. Keshi is full of respect for the three sides but feels his side can advance to the knockout stages of the tournament.

The Eagles will have no excuses of not qualifying to the next stage because Group C is definitely not the dreaded ‘group of death’ in the 2013 AFCON. What this means is that under ‘normal’ circumstances, Nigeria should be favourites to emerge as one of the two that will qualify from the group, and even if achieving this initial feat would not be as easy as one may be tempted to think.

The Super Eagles have not been quite consistent even after their impressive outing against Liberia, Venezuela, Catalonia and Cape Verde that appear to be giving Nigerians a bloated sense about their national team’s capability at the moment. In the last three editions Nigeria participated, they came back with bronze. Nigerians are not prepared to settle for any “golden bronze” in South Africa. The Eagles should go there and win real gold – it has been I9years since Nigeria last won the tag of the best football country in Africa that should be the team’s goal in South Africa.

The 16 teams will play in five host cities throughout South Africa from January 19 to February 10, 2013, to determine the African champion who will represent the continent at the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup.

Nigeria qualified for the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations when countries like Egypt and Cameroon failed to make it – Cameroon; four-time champions fell to Cape Verde. The defeat of Cameroon will serve as a warning to the Eagles that no team or country should be taken for granted. Super Eagles go for gold.

 

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