Soccertalk By Mumini Alao
THE Muslim and Christian holy books, Quran and Bible, narrate the story of how Prophet Musa (Moses), with the permission of God, led the Children of Israel to miraculously cross the Red Sea while their pursuers, the oppressive King Pharaoh of Egypt and his army, perished. For the religious ones amongst us, it is one of the stories that assures us that, with God, the seemingly impossible is possible.
That story is centuries old. But, as the 32nd Africa Cup of Nations get underway in Egypt, Nigeria’s Super Eagles will have to create their own version of Crossing the Red Sea to become African champions for the fourth time. They will have to practically split the Red Sea!
I was a guest on Godwin Enakhena’s popular radio programme, Global Sports Update, this past week. He asked me whether coach Gernot Rohr should be sacked if the Eagles did not win the trophy. I said to him that would be stupid arrogance by Nigeria.
The Eagles are only one of about SIX countries capable of winning the competition. Egypt have won the tournament each time they’ve hosted it; our eternal rivals Cameroun are the defending champions; Senegal have grown in leaps and bounds and though they didn’t progress beyond the first round at the last World Cup just like the rest of the African contingent, they were probably the strongest; Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia will join Egypt to provide the usually tough Arab resistance; then you have our West African brothers, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana always ready to die on the pitch the moment they confront Nigeria.
All these other countries that I’ve mentioned have the quality, the pedigree and the experience to win the AFCON, not to mention surprise packages Zambia. With such a highly competitive field, why then should Nigeria feel that the Eagles MUST WIN, otherwise Rohr should be sacked? Abeg, I no gree.
Lest we forget, the Eagles also did not qualify for the last two tournaments, so we’re practically starting from scratch again following the giddy outing of 2013 when, led by the late Stephen Keshi, we surprised everyone, including ourselves, by winning the tournament in South Africa.
Now, hold it there! No, I’m not contradicting myself. Yes, we won in South Africa against the odds and we can do it again in Egypt, against the odds. But I insist that if we don’t do it (win the tournament), the thought of sacking the coach should not cross our minds at all.
Depending on our luck of the draw from the knockout stages, a quarter-final or semi-final finish by the Eagles will mean success, for me. If they progress further to the final or even win the trophy, I will celebrate it but I won’t be disappointed if they don’t.
Talking about crossing the Red Sea, it’s unfortunate that our own modern day “Moses,” Victor Moses has quit the Eagles. Thankfully, we still have “Musa”, the deputy captain Ahmed Musa. But you can imagine how spiritually powerful it would have been to have both Moses and Musa splitting the Red Sea for us. Perhaps then, I could have agreed with the postulation that if the Eagles didn’t win the trophy in Egypt, Gernot Rorh should go.
Where do YOU stand on this matter, dear readers. Should Gernot Rorh be sacked if Nigeria fails to cross the Red Sea? Join the conversation at our forum, NaijaSuperFans.com.ng.