It was a great relief to see Nigeria end their Cup Of
Nations campaign on an honourable note.
Chukwu did well in difficult circumstances
Considering all the problems the team had both
before and during the tournament, it is a miracle that
Nigeria performed as well as they did.
The lesson I feel needs to be learnt is that there is
no substitute for good pre-tournament preparation.
There is also no substitute for managing tournament
problems with a cool head, instead of resorting to
The Nigeria FA also need to realise that better care must be
taken of national team players, who seem to only get
their attention when they are needed to fly from
Europe for qualifying games and tournaments.
Before this competition, Julius Aghahowa was injured
for close to six months, and no one from the NFA cared
enough to enquire about his well-being until he was
fit to play again.
That is a very bad attitude which must stop before it
destroys the national team.
It is important that there are one or two officials
designated to check up on them, and do whatever is
required to keep them in good spirits whenever they
have injuries or other personal problems.
This will give the players a good reason to be more
committed to the national cause.
The 2006 World Cup qualifiers start soon and we are
going to need them to have a chance of getting
On the bright side, we have several young players
that can maintain the high standards that the football
world expects from us.
But the big question is whether there will be
managerial stability and administrative competence to
build upon the positive points of this Cup of Nations
In spite of all the problems Nigeria went through at
this championship, I think Christian Chukwu has done a
fairly good job.
Whether he stays in charge or leaves the manager's job
is a matter for the NFA, but it should be noted that
Nigerian football will not progress with the endless
sacking and recruitment of coaches.
Morocco's Marouane Chamakh had a great tournament
Talking about the competition as a whole, I must say
that I have not been overly impressed with the
standard of play.
I thought that the pace and intensity of games would
be greater, with so many African footballers plying
their trade in Europe. But I do not see them showing as
much passion as we did in our day.
I think they are trying to avoid injuries so they can
resume their club careers.
On the positive side though, there have been some
brilliant youngsters at this tournament - Jawad Zairi
and Marouane Chammakh of Morocco, Osaze Odemwingie and
George Abbey of Nigeria and Joel Luphala of Zimbabwe.
Players like these are the future of the game in