By Victor Gai.
Another fresh round of crisis occurred when Nigeria was to file out against the Teranga Lions of Senegal in one of the friendly games in preparations for the Nations cup and World Cup qualifiers slated for later in the year.
This time, it had to do with the captainship of the Super Eagles. While it was proper for Ahmed Musa to simply take the captainship band by virtue of the fact that he was Assistant Captain, the band was given to Ogenyi Onazi- another player of the team.
That scenario caused a lot of rift in the camp as Musa complained bitterly and disappointedly too. But that was the decision of the Manager, Gernot Rorh and it was final.
Well, the Franco-German tactician may not know what trouble he was courting because perhaps he had not done his home work properly to know where the team was coming from and its antecedents.
We only hope that he would be briefed on past happenings and would be ready to learn a lesson before it is too late.
It would be recalled that the poor management of players by Samson Siasia and later Sunday Oliseh, had led to the unceremonious exit of Nigeria’s number one goalkeeper and one of the best in the world- Vincent Enyeama. Then later, one of the aggressive and dependable strikers, Emmanuel Emenike, was frustrated out of the national team.
They left as a result of the sentiments and lack of respect the coaches had for the players.
What can one say for the way Oliseh treated Enyeama who had taken excuse before a crucial game involving the Super Eagles, to go and mourn his late mother. Oliseh thought the game was more important than the act of mourning the dead and Enyeama could not take that and therefore decided to honour his mum at the expense of fighting for his country. Who wouldn’t do that?
Interestingly, Rohr, in trying to find a solution to the Eagles’ faltering back line, is attempting to bring back the Lille FC of France number one shot stopper. Whether he will succeeds or not, is left to be seen.
But the way he handled the captainship matter before that game against Senegal left much to be desired. He might have made a big mistake, which might spell doom for the Eagles in their quest to qualify for the Nations Cup and World Cup. This is the time for the players to be mentally and psychologically balanced because we are already on the driving seat as far as the world cup is concerned.
Creating disaffection among players of that age bracket because of a mere captain’s band does not show maturity!
Ahmed Musa and Ogenyi Onazi, apart from being age mates, are familiar folks. They were all raised in Jos city. They are professionals who have mutual respect for each other. Giving preferential treatment to one against the other might trigger resentment, jealousy and affect the team in general, considering their experience.
Already there are feelers that Musa is threatening to leave the national team and I hope the white guy knows we can’t afford to lose Musa at this critical stage.
Yes, we can’t because he is by all standards, the most lethal striker in the Super Eagles for now. He is a match winner and forget about the fact that he is not scoring goals in Leicester City now. Playing for national team is completely different from playing for a club.
Presently, he is one of the players with the most number of goals in the national team and he was able to score some crucial goals for Eagles in the past.
During one of the friendlies against South Africa in Durban, it was Musa that ensured that Nigeria maintained an unbeaten run against the South Africans, with a blistering shot from outside the 18 yard box that resulted to a goal.
I learnt the South African coach had warned his players to be wary of the then CSKA of Moscow winger. His warning was not heeded and they were punished for that. Many team coaches are conscious of Ahmed Musa and they do not hide it unless of course they want to pretend about it.
During the Brazil 2014 World Cup, Ahmed Musa single handedly wrecked the Argentines with a brace. If not for a late Messi goal from a free kick, it would have ended in a draw.
Ahmed Musa is such a phenomenal player that on a bad day, he can be completely out of the game and a burden to the team. But on a good day, he can devastate the opponent and be a match winner. No wonder Leicester had to make a record transfer for him.
Let’s not trifle with an asset we already have because as they say, you never know what you have until you lose it.