Russia 2018 Draw: FIFA, Please Give Super Eagles Germany, Spain

Russia 2018 Draw: FIFA, Please Give Super Eagles Germany, Spain

By Nurudeen Obalola:
Obviously as a Super Eagles fan and a Nigerian sports journalist I want the best for my national team at the World Cup. So don’t look at the headline of this piece and conclude ‘this (expletive) guy wants the Super Eagles back home early’.
I’m also risking a query from my boss Alhaji Mumini Alao, the Group Managing Director of Complete Communications Ltd, who has not hidden his preference for Russia as Pot 1 opponents and clearly does not want Germany.
But, all joking aside, I would really love the Super Eagles to draw Germany from Pot 1 and Spain from Pot 2 during the draw on Friday (by the way, are you aware that Completesportsnigeria.com Assistant Editor Kayode Ogundare is LIVE in Moscow to cover the draw exclusively for this website and the Complete Sports newspaper?).
For those who might have been somehow out of circulation for the past few weeks and still need an explanation, the 32 teams that qualified for the World Cup finals will be placed in four pots of eight teams each for the draw.
Pot 1 is perceived as the strongest pool of teams and it contains the seven highest ranked teams in the finals plus hosts Russia. Pots 2, 3 and 4 follow in order of perceived strength with Pot 4, where the Super Eagles are housed, seen as the weakest as it contains the lowest ranked teams in Russia.
Since a team from Pot 4 must draw one team each from the other pots, the Super Eagles cannot escape one of the teams in Pot 1, which has Russia, Poland, Belgium, Argentina, Brazil, Portugal, Germany and France.
Common sense and the fear of disgrace before a global audience suggest that the average Nigerian would rather have Russia or Poland from Pot A, or even familiar foes Argentina or Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal.
But I would rather have Germany and I am not being overconfident, far from it. I’m as afraid of the big sides as any Nigerian but drawing them might just be best for the Super Eagles.
I would also love the Eagles to draw Spain from Pot B, probably the best side in the second-tier pot being former champions and all.
One of the main reasons I believe it is good for the Super Eagles to be placed in the same group as the big guns is the tendency of the Nigerian team to raise their game when up against the favourites.
Who can forget how a debuting Super Eagles side completely destroyed Bulgaria and Hristo Stoichkov and his band of superstar sidekicks who were seen in 1994 as one of the top five teams in the world given their form going into the World Cup.
But the Super Eagles were not fazed one bit and did not just demystify the Eastern Europeans, they did it in style with a magnificent 3-0 win. To put that win for the African debutantes in perspective, Bulgaria still went on to reach the semi-finals.
Even when Nigeria lost to Italy in the second round, it took an extra-time goal and the dark arts (some still swear to this day that Emmanuel Amuneke and Daniel Amokachi were deliberately targeted and taken out by Italian defenders) to stop the Super Eagles.
The Super Eagles were just minutes away from upsetting a true world power until Roberto Baggio’s late, late equaliser.
Not many Nigerians were excited by the prospects of the Super Eagles facing the star-studded Spain at the France ’98 World Cup but Sunday Oliseh’s stunning missile settled an edge-of-your-seat 3-2 win for the African underdogs.
Curiously at that same World Cup in France, the Super Eagles lost to modest Paraguay in their last group game (admittedly Nigeria had already qualified for the round of 16 before the game) and suffered their heaviest defeat in their round of 16 clash with Denmark.
The Super Eagles were clear favourites to beat Denmark and there was already talk of a potential blockbuster quarter-final meeting with Brazil. But the Laudrup brothers Michael and Brian and the likes of Ebbe Sand absolutely tore Nigeria apart and won 4-1.
Despite the Denmark thrashing, the Super Eagles have fared generally well against European opposition at the group stages of the World Cup.
Nigeria have won five of eight fixtures against European opposition at the World Cup group stages, losing only two and drawing one. Instructively, three of those wins were against Spain and Bulgaria (twice). The defeats were to Greece and Sweden, teams you would expect the Super Eagles to at least get a point from.
The point is the Super Eagles, over the years, tend to get a little complacent when they see themselves as favourites but they are usually a different animal when you have written them off.
The qualifying campaign for this World Cup clearly illustrates this trait. The Eagles were dominant in defeating then Africa’s top team Algeria 3-1 in Uyo and completely annihilated arch-rivals and African champions Cameroon 4-0. But Zambia, rated as the easiest side in the group when the draw for the qualifiers was made, gave the Eagles their toughest home game in Uyo and it took a late goal to defeat the southern African underdogs.
The Eagles breezed through what was considered a tough qualifying group without defeat in six games, winning four matches against Cameroon, Algeria and Zambia.
Nigeria qualified for the World Cup second round when drawn against Argentina, hot Bulgaria and Greece and when in the same group as Spain, Paraguay and Bulgaria. But the same team failed to progress in 2010 when drawn against Argentina, Greece and South Korea, when Nigeria were the second favourites in the group.
If drawn against Poland or Russia on Friday, the talk would be that the Super Eagles have an easy route to the round of 16 and this usually breeds complacency.
But if placed in the same group as Germany and Spain and maybe Denmark, the Super Eagles would be written off but driven by a desire to prove every doubter wrong.
That is when you get the best of the Super Eagles, when nobody gives them a chance.

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COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 21
  • De wy dem go take trash dem eh no big here oh, mtssssew instead make u dey pray 4 otu

  • Awesome. I love this. I am in this with you, but abeg, one of them would do, not both. And please edit South Africa to South Korea. SA was in the group with France.

  • Factor remains, we must have good Goal Keepers to beat our Chest that we are prepared to face the World.

  • @Mr-completesports-too-know-know. This your analysis is too watery. Not reasonable. It does not mean that because paracetamol worked for Olodi’s headache so it MUST work for Omote. What if Omote’s headache is caused by high blood pressure and not stress of work? Because we played some strong European teams some years back with some set of players who were with a different mindset and won so we will continue to win and win them. Those two teams you want in your country’s group are among the best in the world. Forget FIFA ranking, after Brazil and Germany, Spain is the next best thing. You are familiar with the team foolhardiness? You are a journalist. If it is known that a lion is roaming a pathway and it is a shortcut to your house will you go through that path? No na. Somewhere along the line we may meet these tough teams but why risk our exit from the tournament by wanting to play 2 teams that are by farrrrrrr better than us!!!!!!!!!! Let FIFA give us instead of we choosing them for ourselves. So if overnight FIFA change the rule and ask the 32 teams to present one person each to choose a team of his choice from the pots and you are choosen to rep Nigeria and you happen to choose first you will go and choose Germany from pot 1, Spain from pot 2? Fans will finish you. You dared not. You won’t make that mistake. Don’t you think these Europeans have gone to look at the records and discover that European countries usually loss to Nigeria in big tournaments like the WC and in their usual meticulous way of doing things format a way to curb our strategy? Anyway I look at your analysis, I will still stand by your boss. Bosses know better than their subordinates. I can see why he is your boss but I am aware too that he is a kind boss so he will not punish you as he knows you are merely voicing your own personal personal personal opinion and not that of CS.

    • joel 2 weeks

      djch I don’t think what he wrote is watery in any way at all.even you,if you are asked to chose between a European team and a south American team,my bet is on you choosing a European team ,that shows you that statistics don’t lie.it is not coincidence that we have not been able to beat argentina in 4 world cup matches even with our golden generation.that tells you that statistics dont lie.Now back to the matter,eagles ALWAYS raise their game when they are underrated as under-dogs.the writer’s point are very valid and plausible too even though that might not be the general wish.if you ask me,I will say it all boils down to “bring on any team fate wants to play on us” as i KNOW something great that will shock the world,will happen in Russia as regards the Nigerian super eagles. This was the hunch I got that made me write about the super eagles vs Argentina match where I said that I had a feeling that the result of the match will make the world sit up and notice the super eagles.we know what went down. All the same,we have just few hours to find out who we are pitted against.so lets relax and wait for fate to play the best cards on us.cheers

  • If you ask for my ideal team for Nigeria’s group will be Russia, Croatia(or Costa Rica if Croatia is in the same zone with Russia), Iran. To make it plain:
    Russia, Croatia, Iran, Nigeria
    or
    Russia, Costa Rica, Iran, Nigeria or
    Russia, Costa Rica, Iceland, Nigeria.

  • ako amadi 2 weeks

    My fear of the big teams is that FIFA and their financial sponsors don’t like upsets. They therefore instruct referees to bully the ‘minnows’

  • Will not say Amen to that prayer.

  • So that we can come back home after group stage abi? …

  • Fasasi Kunle 2 weeks

    What the writer is saying is quite true because every team prepare well for big team and the big team also fear those team called small team because anything can happen. For me Nigeria is not small team as some Nigeria fans think. Although we have not done so well in senior team level but super eagles would be fearful to any team in the world when we are talking about football in general. My prayer is that any team we may meet may God let this tournament be our own. My advance we should prepare very well and leave the larger part for God.

  • l like that, to be a champion you most beat a champion.

  • Helo super eagle fans keep praying for my team up eagle

  • Be careful what you wish for

  • Kenzie 2 weeks

    U’ve said it all sir. Bring de strong teams and we will show de world wat we are made of. Out of de 31 teams, no team would like to face Nigeria. Nigeria is a potential semifinals team

  • It will prove a lot

  • Saad super ahmed maru 2 weeks

    Believe me not ,the way things ‘re going now is evident enough 2 beat our chest n ask 4 most stronger team .though football is a strange game one kn fail easily 4rm making mathematical analysis of if mr a beat mr b den mr a kn beat mr c.

  • Adisa Balogun 2 weeks

    Nurudeen Obalola …you’ve made a fantastic analysis , and I agreed with it. We’ve now find a coach that read a game as it’s, these Super Eagle are a bunch of players with great visions to be the best of their groups, psychologically groomed, with a motto of playing against a bunch of white players who have the same goals as they’re. Nothing will stop the Eagle for flying high, the sign of Daman miracle has already lighting their spirits. It’s the” Russia.”

  • This draw means we gonna be well prepared…
    Mikel agu, Akpeyi and ezenwa should be dropped.
    Nff should kindly settle them and drop them