Brand Super Eagles free fall continues with a thunderous crash out of AFCON’17, a second successive one and indeed the third miss of our four editions of The African continents number one football event.
Without a doubt a great problem is here with us regarding Nigeria’s number one brand the Super Eagles.
The unfortunate events leading to this crash began moments after the Super Eagles won AFCON’13. Team Coach Stephen Keshi went on a South African radio station to announce his resignation from the job of Head Coach even before the celebrations entered the second gear.
Coach Stephen Keshi on winning AFCON’13 and commanding new followership, heavy and very powerful support from even the presidency (or Dr. Goodluck Jonathan). feelings and thoughts at the time were that Keshi got arrogant and bothered little about what his employers(NFF) thought about him. He felt secured with the support of big guns (of Navarone) behind him. Maigari’s NFF soon got to its tolerance limit and made moves to sack Keshi. That little jinx was quickly extinguished by powerful forces at the presidency.
Stephen Keshi saw Maigaris’ NFF out but put the next Board led by Amaju Pinnick on the alert. However, before becoming NFF President Amaju Pinnick had made public his preference for a foreign coach for the Super Eagles. He was not allowed his preference. Rumors, infact, had it that Dr. Jonathan “pleaded” with him not to sack Keshi! Howsoever Keshi kept his job. Here turned a famed performance to the World Cup in Brazil (2014) and promptly crashed out of AFCON’15. He blamed everyone else but himself for the failure to reach AFCON’15. The better thing to do then was to relieve him of his job and get a capable replacement. That did not happen until he burnt our AFCON’15 tickets.
Sentiments rather than reason ran high on the matter. Damming suggestions ran thus: “let’s give him another chance; he has done what some foreign Coaches could not do”; “let’s encourage Nigerian Coaches” bla bla bla. Clearly propagations of this scarlet views ignored or chose to draw blank on the consequences of the failure to reach AFCON’15 on the brand which clearly had lost a lot of its equity and infact become a caricature of the hitherto coveted sports brand. Failure to reach AFCON’15 crushed sports business in the realm of advertising, event promotions, experiential media etc. running into billions of naira.
I would not crunch figures here because that will not solve the problem. It is enough to say that each time Super Eagles fails to reach AFCON at least N17.5bn of advertising spend and event promotions budget for by brand custodians and managers go unspent. The impact and trickledown effect on the economy is placed on hold and the monies returned to the vaults of the companies.
It has happened again! Sports business and advertising spend by brands late 2016 and early 2017 will not include football and AFCON matters, All down to an avoidable crash. Change of guards at Aso Villa saw Stephen Keshi out of job in a matter of days. Time for reasoned and well thought-out solution became a dream which was going to die early. NFF President stepped back from his foreign Coach preference to engaging ex-international, Sunday Oliseh as coach of the Super Eagles. Amaju presented Sunday Oliseh as the ‘messiah’ coach. He even called him the Pep Guardiola of Africa. But discerning minds like yours truly who knows Oliseh very well knew all of that was going to end in tears as indeed it did. The appointment of a Kindergarten coach for a Super brand evoked many incongruences and put the team’s qualification chances at risk from the very beginning. Engaging Oliseh was indeed a disaster foretold as he characteristically jumped ship when he saw no way out of the mess he had put his team and country.
Samson Siasia was invited to pick the pieces but tried as he did, Eagles will stay at home to watch AFCON’17 due to no fault of his. The decisions of the custodians of our football in the last three to five years have gradually and decisively eroded the brand profile of The Super Eagles and I truly wonder what is left of a once massive and coveted brand.
Alhaji Gara Gombe Ahmed Shaibu, a known football personality in his recent post mortem on Nigeria’s AFCON ouster posted on social media believes that the absence of Nigerians in key Confederation of African Football (CAF) contributed to our misfortune. I however beg to differ. There are always problems with anything Nigeria but our football problems took a turn for the worse after the infamous Makurdi AGM where in a brutal coup, Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima was illegally removed as NFA Chairman. The then FIFA Secretary-General, Urs Linsey relocated his office to Makurdi to join the conspirators who were paid-agent stakeholders, a questionable interest group, and used National Sports Commission (NSC)apparatchik to facilitate Galadima’s removal. We may have won AFCON and some laurels since then but that’s where our troubles started from. The door opened for all kinds of persons to get into football administration. The negative consequences are what we are seeing now. Back-to-back exits from AFCON, the hiring of misfits as coach of the Super Eagles has led to a general state of dimness in the affairs of football. All those who did the Makurdi coup should atone for their sins against Nigeria and our football, come out and apologise for their selfish, disruptive actions which have laid our international football prostrate. As you can see I’ve avoided naming the Makurdi conspirators so that bit doesn’t become the new fight here and the ratio dividend relegated. May l just add that if our football is good, CAF politics or not, we will be in winning ways. Dr. Amos Adamu was not in CAF nor was there any Nigerian there when we won Cup of Nations in 1980 and 1994. The field is full of charlatans, pretenders and self-serving people that is why we have problems, big problems. Moving forward, let us address and put right what happened in Makurdi first and we can then resolve the problems it generated. Peace and progress will thereafter return to football.