Former Nigerian international, Chief Segun Odegbami has advised Nigerians to be humble, and not expect much from the Super Eagles as they go into the 2018 FIFA World Cup, which kicks off in Russia today.
The 1980 Africa Cup of Nations winner gave this advice in Channel Televison’s Sunrise Daily”.
Odegbami expressed joy in the fact that for the first time, the players have no problems as regards finance, which suggests a possibility of a good outing in Russia. But, he cautioned that it would be too much for Nigerians to expect the Super Eagles to win the World Cup in this edition.
Odegbami analysed: “They had a good outing, defeating Argentina in a friendly match, and I think that is the best preparation we can have going to the World Cup, because the odds tip them as one of the favourites to win the World Cup.
“But looking at their recent friendly results can stir up some worries. I think those results should be a wake-up call to the coaches, not to allow what happened against Argentina to dominate their thoughts. They should realise that they are going into the most difficult football competition and should be prepared for it.
“As we go, I want Nigerians to be humble. We should enjoy the World Cup and show respect to our opponents. Those of us that will be watching on television should enjoy the tournament, and not hope that Nigeria will win the World Cup because we cannot win it. We don’t have the team that can win on July 15, but we can go a bit far at the tournament.”
Odegbami believed that tagging the Super Eagles as underdogs, even against their first opponents Croatia is a good thing. For him, Nigeria could spring surprises during the tournament.
“The Super Eagles can sometimes be like Arsenal, who play like potential world champions today and then play like secondary school students tomorrow. That is why I said they cannot win the World Cup because to be champions require consistency,” he said.
The former national team captain said that the current Super Eagles squad was a team for the future and not the current World Cup. He said the team should be ready to explode in the 2022 World Cup.
Odegbami explained: “For the first time, we have a team that is playing like a team, but we don’t have any exceptional player in the mould of a Jay-Jay Okocha or Nwankwo Kanu or Muda Lawal, people who can on their own take up responsibility and do exceptional things for the team. The only person that comes close in our current team is Victor Moses. So we are going to the World Cup with a future team. Thanks to Coach Gernot Rohr, there is much more understanding in this team than our previous Super Eagles.”
Speaking on the issue of the goalkeepers, Odegbami observed that the Super Eagles do not have problem with the goalkeepers, but with the defence line. “We have a tall and good-statured Francis Uzoho, and we have an energetic Ikechukwu Ezenwa, who is like the Best Ogedengbe of those days, but they depend on the defence line, which is where I think we have problems. I think we have good goalkeepers that will do well.”
The FIFA World Cup begins on Thursday, June 14, 2018 in Moscow, and Nigeria kick off their campaign two days later against Croatia, in a match Odegbami thinks the Super Eagles will perform poorly “but will pick up against Iceland, and will be in the form of their lives against Argentina. I see Nigeria progressing to the second round.”