Nigeria is the only team that finished with maximum points in the group stages at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.
Read that again, this time very slowly.
In a tournament where Senegal, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Cameroon and Tunisia are present, the Super Eagles have shone the brightest.
The three-time champions saw off Egypt 1-0 in their opening fixture, before beating Sudan 3-1 to seal qualification for the knockout rounds.
For the Guinea-Bissau match, Augustine Eguavoen made eight changes to the starting XI.
It didn’t matter.
Every player in the squad is fully aware of the blueprint: Keep it tight at the back, control the midfield and attack relentlessly. And they delivered a 2-0 win.
The ex-Eagles captain took the bold step of making eight changes to the starting lineup.
When former boss Gernot Rohr did the same at the 2019 AFCON – he made five changes at the time – the Super Eagles suffered an embarrassing loss to Madagascar and had to play arch-rivals Cameroon in the round of 16.
What is this lifelong addiction with foreign coaches?
Even as Eguavoen is working wonders with this team, he has to do all of it with the shadow of Jose Peseiro looming over him.
The Portuguese was appointed as Rohr’s replacement just days after Eguavoen was drafted in on a temporary basis to prepare the team for the AFCON.
Peseiro is expected to take over after the tournament in Egypt. This means he will lead the team to the 2022 World Cup play-offs.
How do we trust that a man who would barely have time to work with the squad will deliver our ticket to Qatar?
NFF officials must be squirming.
Eguavoen has exhibited a firm understanding of Nigerian players and African football. Need anybody to remind you he is a former player and coach of the national side? This is why he has been able to turn around the mess Rohr left behind, to provide a team that excites us once again.
Shouldn’t he be kept in charge for the World Cup play-offs? At least, he has made Nigeria the best team at the AFCON after three games and he is likely to be facing one of these countries in the play-offs.
Remember Bora Milutinovic who was employed before France 98 and how that tournament went for the Eagles?
Why don’t we learn our lessons? Are these expatriates so superior technically to coaches like Eguavoen, Samson Siasia and Emmanuel Amuneke?
If the NFF does not act smartly in the coming weeks, we might just bungle our appearance at Qatar 2022.