Nigeria Should Start Planning For 2026 FIFA World Cup
By Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba
It is Now Time for Nigeria to start Planning for 2026 FIFA World Cup
FIFA 2018 cup matches are now over. The Nigerian team is back and Nigerian soccer fans stranded in Russia have been repatriated back to Nigeria, thanks to the Nigerian Federal Government.
Super Eagles performance was just commensurate to the investment made by the nation. It was miserable.
In the scheme of things, World Soccer Championship, is not a big deal in any nation’s affairs. But since a nation ought to be known for something, the goal of a “soccer nation” should be pursued by Nigeria.
It is one of the areas the country could have potential for success. The total financial cost is also affordable. Smaller, poorer countries have proved that soccer cup championship is possible. Croatia in 2018 is an example.
Success in any human endeavor requires planning and execution over a long period. The current Nigerian plans (if we can call what we have now a plan) for World Cup is sporadic, uncoordinated, haphazard and fitful.
A year or two before the cup date a coach from a foreign country is hired, players from hundreds of clubs around the world are invited to camp and after about six months the core team is selected and they practice for nine months and are sent out to win the world cup.
Most often without much support. In 2014, they could barely make it to Brazil after they were abandoned in Atlanta, USA by their beloved country.
Many things are necessary to win any world completion be it soccer or otherwise. For soccer they include strong leagues, strong feeder organizations such as high schools and colleges, triple” A” teams, etc. And of course a strong administration.
A strong administration will work on team cohesion, support staff (field maintenance people, dieticians, position coaches, medical staff, etc.) discipline and training, and direct materials such as playing fields, and state of the art equipment (gym).
To build a cohesive team requires a coach with a long term contract (5-10 years) and players that have been with the team for years and have developed a playing style. And a national purpose drummed in over a long period.
Nigeria should build at least 6 international stadia, preferably one in each zone. If well managed they will pay for themselves in a very short period as soccer is very poplar sporting event in all parts of the country. It is perhaps the only event/topic in which most Nigerians take pride in.
To be ready for 2026 the Nigeria soccer governing body should create an 8-year plan. The first half of the plan period would be devoted to building competitions from high schools at the state levels to universities at national level.
Minor league competitions (Triple “A” leagues) at the zones. Stadia constructions will be part of the first half so that by 2022 all the stadia are functioning and most of the competitions are strong.
Professional Premier Leagues are currently functioning but at primitive levels which explains why Nigeria’s best player are plying in Europe or somewhere other than Nigeria.
With feeder competitions at local level, intermediate competition at zonal level and senior professional competition at national level, graduates of the system will be ready for world competitions. And could be called to national camps occasionally.
Nigeria may one day be a soccer country like Brazil or any South America country.
Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba, Boston, Massachusetts