By winning the 2013 African Cup of Nations, the Super Eagles of Nigeria have successfully completed their mission.
This is the third time Nigeria has won the Nations Cup. The first was in 1980, and the second in 1994. This year’s success is reminiscent of the character and determination employed in the previous wins.
Before the competition, analysts had tipped countries like Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana and South Africa as possible favourites to clinch the coveted cup.
Nigeria obviously went to the competition as an underdog, perhaps because of unrated local players in the team and due to prior experiences when the team did not perform well.
After his appointment as Super Eagles’ coach, Stephen Keshi, who had earlier taken Mali and Togo to the Nations Cup, had a point to prove – that local coaches in Africa have what it takes to fly if given the opportunity and right environment.
Known for his guts and passion to do things right, Keshi set out to perform. Unlike in the past when various factors such as ethnicity, foreign-based account and favouritism dictated choice of players, Keshi stuck to merit and commitment of players over and above everything else.
It is now clear that what gave Nigeria the victory was a blend of the ability to select team members without external influence, team commitment, focused leadership, and approaching and surmounting every challenge as they come.
With commitment, the players and their handlers gave their best, further inspired by the determination to prove critics wrong.
It was, therefore, heartening to hear the sports minister and chairman of the National Sports Commission, Bolaji Abdullahi, saying the victory has lifted the mood of the nation ahead of the 100th anniversary celebration, adding: “This is not the final destination. We will work with other authorities to ensure that we build on the current success and make the Super Eagles world-class beaters.”
The Super Eagles’ win has presented a management formula for Ghana and the Black Stars on how to be great again. Governments all over the world are in competition to succeed and it is only the right formula juxtaposed with the right team and focus that can guarantee this achievement.
This was buttressed by President Goodluck Jonathan when he said after he watched the final match between the Super Eagles and the Stallions of Burkina Faso: “This is a transformed Super Eagles and their success shows that with cooperation we can achieve a lot. We should all work together to achieve our common goal.”
It is instructive that the Super Eagles’ win is a function of good preparation and concentration on the job. No nation will achieve success without concentration, cohesion, teamwork, and proper guidance from the leadership. Nigeria is blessed with abundance of resources that with determination and team players in various sectors, the nation could achieve the expected success in a short time.
The Nigerian brand is a combination of determination, perseverance and encouragement. If Nigerian leaders could step backwards on the subject of nation-building and create an atmosphere of credibility in the dream of excellence, which is what Keshi and his team did, and work hard to achieve it, then we will be on a journey of progress.
We wish the Super Eagles and Nigeria more successes in future endeavours.