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AFCON 2023  – My Verdict!  –Odegbami

AFCON 2023  – My Verdict!  –Odegbami

It is the day after the AFCON 2023 ended.

For some altruistic reason, far from how the generality of Nigerians felt, I believed, even before the championship started, that Nigeria’s chances of winning it were very bright. I said so severally at many fora. I also wanted to be a major part of the journey to that historic achievement, particularly since very few people gave the country any chance.

By road to Abidjan. 

The idea to travel by road to Cote d’Ivoire was so that I could document every part of that journey and the experiences of winning AFCON 2023. I managed to convince a few persons and organisations that partnered with me. I thank them all without mentioning them specifically.

Organisation

Compared to several previous AFCONs, the organization of the 2023 championship

was not top-notch. There were very serious issues about access to broadcast rights, accreditation of the media, transportation to Cote d’Ivoire, accommodation, ticketing, and the general ambiance in the country.

Also Read: Osimhen Returns To Napoli Training, Out Of Genoa Clash

I remember Ghana 2008.  Every inch of that country in that year reeked of ‘AFCON’. Everything imaginable was branded in the colours of Ghana. You saw and felt it at the airports, around the towns on taxis, in the shops, on street kiosks, etc. Even some houses were repainted in national colours, as were souvenirs, clothes, flags, and small takeaway items on the streets. There was not such an ambiance and citizen participation here.

Until towards the semi-final matches, interest all around the country was rather subdued.

Having said that, the championship ran well and produced some very high-quality football. Sadly, it also came with some tragedies. At least 5 Nigerians were reported to have died whilst watching some of the matches involving their national team on television.

Facilities and infrastructure

Cote D’Ivoire invested well to provide some excellent facilities for the championship.

As a result of the excellent grounds, and lush green natural grass turfs, the football matches played throughout were of very high standard, delightful to watch, and perfect for television coverage. Accompanied by the unprecedented drama that ended most games, and the sheer unpredictability of matches till the very end, the matches became a great advertisement for ‘the beautiful game’ as well as the best of African football.

With most of the players at the championship playing in European leagues, they were at home on the pitches.

Also Read: I’m In No Rush To Move To Europe —Nwabali

The biggest challenge for the players was also the discomfort for all spectators – the scorching temperatures during the day as a result of global climate change.  Despite that, the competition was high, the playing standards were high, and every match saw the very best of adulterated attacking football.

So, in a transformation never seen before, ‘minnows’ became ‘giant killers’, escalating the level of competition, and creating unprecedented drama, global interest in each match, and some of the most unexpected results in AFCON history.

The state of the pitches alone takes AFCON 2023 to a level different from all others before it.

super-eagles-nigeria-nzalang-nacional-equatorial-guinea-alassane-quattara-stadium-abidjan-afcon-2023-africa-cup-of-nations

Super Eagles captain of the game, William Troost-Ekong and Nzalang Navional captain, Emilio Nsue, pose for photograpgh with the match officials.

Officiating

Generally, the level of officiating was very high.  Even Europe can take lessons from the African experience in the usage of the VAR. In the final match, the officials may have succumbed to the pressure of the electricity in the air.

There was a ‘threat’ in the air, a fear of what could happen should Ivory Coast lose the match. That ‘threat’ hung over the Olympic stadium in Ebimpe and all around the country, like an Albatross.

It was a huge relief that most persons, that the Ivorian team, buoyed by the support of the over 57,000 spectators in the stands, rose to the occasion, played the better football on the night, and won the final match deservedly.

The Super Eagles!

For most Nigerians, that the team even got to the finals is a big surprise. The team had been written off as a result of not being impressive for several years despite the abundance of good players in the team with most of them playing in big teams in Europe.

The players needed time to blend in and become a team. That was the missing ingredient that  AFCON 2023 offered them, from one week of serious training and the relatively easier group stage matches.

With a little bit of luck added, the team’s simple tactics worked.

Jose Peseiro

He adopted a simple strategy throughout the championship.  It came straight from page one of Jose Mourinho’s handbook of football. Understandably, the more famous Portuguese coach confessed that Jose Peseiro is his closest friend in football. Nigerians cannot also forget that Paseiro got the job of handling the Eagles only because he was recommended by Mourinho.

It is easy to understand how the Nigerian team played so defensively throughout the championship. What is not easy to understand is why they did not change tactics when the opposing teams decoded their tactics. In the semi-final and final matches Peseiro’s limitation as a knowledgeable football tactician was exposed. He did not know the strength of his players enough and did not know how to deploy them. His substitutions were bizarre, to say the least.

Nigeria had the final match under control and could have won the final match with a more experienced coach, and better psychology for the players in the difficult final match.

Without any doubt, for the immediate future beyond AFCON 2023, Nigeria must shop for a better coach. This time, it should be a Nigerian.

Rewards.

The reaction of the Federal Government of Nigeria to the performance of the Super Eagles is very commendable. It sets up a new dimension in rewarding the performance of athletes even without winning a trophy. It lends credence to the spirit of Olympism that: “In sport, you do not have to come first to be a winner”.

The performance of the Super Eagles provided a soothing balm for the political and economic pains Nigerians are going through, bringing the entire people around the values of patriotism and service, setting aside differences, and unifying the entire country around a national cause.

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The Federal Government has set a new barometer to measure achievement.

william-troost-ekong-super-eagles-nigeria-afcon-2023-africa-cup-of-nations

Most valuable player! 

William Troost-Ekong was the ‘discovery’ of the championship. He emerged from the shadows to provide much leadership for the Nigerian team, marshaling the players from defense and leading by example. He distinguished himself both on and off the field, even playing through half the matches with a lingering injury.

Outstanding players

Until the final match, where he switched off for some reason, Ola Aina owned the right wing-back position (the right full-back). His tackles, his dribbles, his runs down the flank, his ball control, some of his crosses, and his confidence were truly masterful.

Nwabali, in goal, was a breath of fresh air as the last line of Nigeria’s defense. His improvement from match to match was remarkable.

Victor Osimhen

Everybody wanted to see Osimhen perform and justify his crowning as Africa’s best. The audiences at every match throughout the championship cheered and hailed him even as he did not put up anything near spectacular. The people waited for that moment that never came.

However, his work rate, his passion, and his energy were a model for young footballers.

His greatest failing was that he never deployed what was considered his greatest weapon, his head. He has a lot of work to do in the following months to win back the support so lavishly lavished on him during AFCON 2023.

The duo of Simon Moses and Demola Lookman played very well. They could have punished defenders a little more by driving more into the box if only the coach had navigated.

The Roadshow

I sincerely believed the Super Eagles would win the championship.

I proclaimed it loudly even before the championship started. I demonstrated it by travelling over 2500 kilometres by road, 11 hours of daily driving for 6 days (to and fro) to attempt to document that history and advance my 20-year dream that West Africa should bid to host the football World Cup and use the event to institute the fastest regional development program in the world. I drove through parts of the West African sub-region and experienced, first-hand, the beauty, and the challenges that lie in this beautiful and enchanting part of the world.

 


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COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 24
  • Bestsport 2 months ago

    Our serially incompetent Nff should tell peseiro thank you for his service and appoint amuneke ASAP! It would have been fantastic with siasia but dude is suspended by fifa because siasia was sweet as a coach who understands Nigeria football mentality! He was a multiple winner as a player and as a coach for Nigeria! For now please get amuneke because he is the best next thing. Vert soon siasia suspension will be over and he can start and be groom again as part of special assistance to siasia, fantastic options in wait, any time amuneke time ends siasia one takes over! Siasia is proven tested and trusted. Pls get amuneke now most important is that let amuneke hand pick his assistants effectively no manipulation. But would our serially incompetent Nff do the right thing for once? Ivory Coast local coach outplayed outthought and out performed coach peseiro because he understands their football. We are dead tired of heart attack football by peseiro, I barely survive it during the nations Cup, some 5 other Nigerians died. Incompetent nff, over to you.. even if we lost a match it is normal thing but to lose lives isn’t normal… get amuneke ooooooooo

  • Adetunji 2 months ago

    Excellent writeup, well articulated. The Nigerian team need a good Nigerian coach.
    The coming Nigerian coach should not be disturbed by god-fatherism and unseen dictators

    • This simply puts it the way it should be moving forward!

    • Obi O. 2 months ago

      Segun predicted that the finals will be our easiest match. He said Ivory Coast are not a good team. He was sure we would beat them easily. I looked carefully at his verdict to see him address why he got it so wrong. I wanted his explanation on how a sure win became a game of being victims of total domination. I didn’t find that explanation.

      • He explained it. You didn’t get it. He said the coach should have changed tactics. He said we have the game under rap and we could have won. He said pesero was exposed. Truly, pesero did not react well in that final especially with only 45 minutes to the cup. Chukuwueze starting was wrong. He said he demonstrated he did not know his players well.

        I believe those are enough explanation.

        Really I don’t think the ivoriens were exceptional. We only made them exceptional. It was a winnable match. But some of our players switched off.

        • Detruth 2 months ago

          The players switched off or the coach adopted a horrible defensive tactics?

          Odegbami should just shot up and stop all these stupid comments about the Eagles.

          He is irrelevant so is his opinions and comments.

          Why has he not coached a Nigerian League team?

          He runs his mouth a lot, he should put his money where his mouth is.

      • Detruth 2 months ago

        I’m sorry you’re trying to make sense of a senseless prediction made by Odegbami. According to Nigeria’s football history, he was a good player during his time but has since lost his relevance after his retirement from active football.

  • Always writing epistle as usual.

    Demanding an indigenous coach that won’t even be able to qualify us for the tournament come to talk of reaching the final.

  • Ekwere 2 months ago

    Why call someone Satan just for a personal comment.looking at the way we lost the final match,one thing is clear that our coach is predictable & limited

  • Collins 2 months ago

    This your comment is terrible. Full of abusive words and insults. To call a human being Satan? For saying is mind. What does that make you? Just say yours and make your point.

  • Odegbani thinks like a 1980er. Recommending for an indigenous coach is too archaic. Are we going backwards or we want to move ahead? Agreed the coach would have changed tactics when we were drawing would have perhaps given us a better chance. The truth is that we don’t know. That’s future and it’s only God that can foresee the future. A tactics has been working for you and you want to change it suddenly. That would not be wise. The Coach by now must have thought about it and see what he would have done differently. So give him another contract. He will improve.

    • Jesse 2 months ago

      Who is this monkey saying odegbami thinks like someone from the 80’s. One thing i can tell you is you can never step in his shoes. His level of education you can never amass. It’s morons like you that would want us to keep hiring PE teachers to come and coach us. We just sent one away and up till date he hasn’t one a single game with his new team, i bet you if this one goes it would be the same result. The opportunity you give to this white coaches should be extended to the local coaches. Yes i would love continuity, but not with this coach that is clueless

  • Omo9ja 2 months ago

    The Mr. Sęgun Ọdęgbami quote below is for every football fan who wants the best for Nigeria.

    Coach Paseiro has nothing to offer, and it shows in Ivory Coast against Congo, South Africa, and Ivory Coast. He relied on luck.

    Fellow Nigerians, let’s give Amunike a chance.

    If NFF allows Coach Paseiro to continue, Nigeria may not qualify for both World Cup and Afcon because other African countries now know how to handle Coach Paseiro Super Eagles.

    “It is easy to understand how the Nigerian team played so defensively throughout the championship. What is not easy to understand is why they did not change tactics when the opposing teams decoded their tactics. In the semi-final and final matches Peseiro’s limitation as a knowledgeable football tactician was exposed. He did not know the strength of his players enough and did not know how to deploy them. His substitutions were bizarre, to say the least.

    Nigeria had the final match under control and could have won the final match with a more experienced coach and better psychology for the players in the difficult final match.

    Without any doubt, for the immediate future beyond AFCON 2023, Nigeria must shop for a better coach. This time, it should be a Nigerian. ”

    Coach Amunike doesn’t have to crap the whole team because the World Cup and Afcon qualifiers are around the corner. I believe he will just change the tactics and change a few players. That is just it.

    But if NFF retained coach Paseiro, Super Eagles is gone forever. If truly you understand football and the damages coach Paseiro did in the Super Eagles in Ivory Coast, then he has to go.

    Just think about this, which areas did coach Paseiro have improved in the Super Eagles
    that merits his continuity?

    Just answer my question before you start your argument, please. I agree with Mr. Sęgun Ọdęgbami on this. Although i have said it before that Oga Paseiro contract should
    not be renewed.

    Retaining Oga Paseiro as a Super Eagles coach is a big scam. That is the bitter truth. Let’s welcome our own Amunike to take us to the promised land. Ire o. God bless Nigeria!!!

  • Larry 2 months ago

    Serial failure Amuneke should go clean-up his highly disappointing resume before thinking of getting the CHAN home base job.
    Abia warriors or heartland FC could be a good start for him.

    • Jesse 2 months ago

      So what was accurate in paserio’s resume that you shouting here, did he notcoach teams with losing records. Please get some brains. Because of the egunje that they collecting from all this white coaches, that’s why the NFF will never hire our own

      • Larry 2 months ago

        Get some brains because I said what’s obvious about your hero. What did your hero do with the opportunities given to him ?
        The U-20 qualifier he lost again Sudan or Libya with the best players? The Super Eagle opportunity he had with Eguaven where he created divusions, distractions and ego unsettled the team ?
        Pesseiro was given a target , he met the target, surpassed it, got the team to the best performance (toughest AFCON till date) and rating in over
        ten years under a challenging period.
        Your Amuneke is always waiting in the wing for coaches to fail, rather than going for refresher courses and taking up jobs elsewhere.
        With the way he set-up the team at AFCON and interests from top govt officials,i
        expect JP to be an upgraded Westehof where he will have more control over the team.
        In part, we lost the finals to the officials who did more manage with int8midating and illegal calls to unsettle the team.
        It takes people with brains to realize that JP is the best option. May be Oliseh can be brought in to help in upgrading the midfield with timely passes, and shooting skills.

        • Jesse 2 months ago

          Look at this moron, so are you his PA not to know he is not taking a refresher course somewhere. Kindly let us know the Licences he possesses since you know more than the Fans. All your excuses is he couldn’t qualify the under-20 to the world cup. Many good coaches didn’t qualify their teams for World cup or major tournaments, heavens didn’t fall. Please don’t come here with that crap that he co-existed with Eguavoen, we all saw the that the players were to blame for the loss. So it is the Park the bus system we want to be using now. Oga get sense abeg

    • Detruth 2 months ago

      What was Presario’s record before his engagement as Eagles coach?

      His last assignment before getting hired by Amaju Pinnick led NFF was with Venezuela at the last COPA America. Just to make the inquiry a bit easier for you.

  • Ayphillydegreat 2 months ago

    Who is the better domestic coach?? Lmao!! One thing is certain when Peseiro came on board he said he wanted to continue from where the previous coach stopped. That he will build on the team he met on ground and want to win the AFCON. In a 16 team tournament the cup will be resting in Abuja by now. 

    We have important WorldCup qualifiers coming up in June against SA at home and Benin republic away. Two must win matches if we want to see our flags soar in the New World. SA will believe they can beat us on their day with the way they pushed us in Boakye . 

    I know Nigeria can never hire a big name coach and I don’t see any local or domestic coach that can take this team to further successes other than take them backwards. 

    Agreed I think we should’ve changed our tactics in the second half of the final. We can only look at it one way, but the fact is that if it ain’t broken don’t fix it. Unfortunately, by the time he realized that his players are playing on reserve tank it was too late. I just wish we’re going to build on this achievement.

    An AFCON finalist after crashing out in the R16 last time out. We literally had to go dig out our football from the grave of 1982! Lmao!! We cracked the top 30 in FIFA rankings and we want to return the team to a domestic coach?? Lmao!! Mi O Ni Sọ Nkankan. My own is just that qualifying for the WorldCup is non negotiable. 

    • Daniel 2 months ago

      Bro let’s always be honest for once,between the last AFCON team and this team which team played a better football,i can assure you that Iwobi is a better footballer but see what peseiro tactics did to him in the final,he turned Iwobi to a clueless player,you heard when Iwobi said he was following the coach instructions,this is 2024 no team should be playing that type of dead football,only goalkeeper was our mistake for the last AFCON tournament,and now we got a good goalkeeper and we have a defense we can rely on bring in an attack minded coach let’s not let more people die because of peseiro defensive minded football,if a coach wants to play defensive football you will have a midfielder that has every confidence in this world look at the days of mourinho in Chelsea no player can get the ball off Ramires in that midfield,look at Antonio conte time,nobody can get the ball off Ngolo Kante in that Chelsea midfield now tell me do we have that type of player in Nigeria,look at Iwobi that cannot come and receive the ball from the defender cos he is scared of loosing the ball 

  • We shd go for Tom Saintfiet, his Gambia unknow team played good brand of soccer during the AFCON, even though I’m completely in support of JP continuity, he fired himself so we gat move on but next WC is non negotiable and I see non of our local coaches qualifying us.

  • He should have mention the name of that good local coach. I think Pesseiro gave him something that is why he couldn’t criticize him unlike the former coach until after he resigned. He just like to write rubbish looking for cheap publicity otherwise who take him serious. Where was he when Eguavon destroyed everything? Did he say anything was he because he is a local coach. Thought he was clamouring for more of home base players in SE before. Mr Mathematical isonu..

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