The morning after Nigeria lost AFCON

By Olusegun Odegbami

Last night I returned to my hotel room from the match in Ebimpe at 3:00 am!!

As I write this, it is 11:30 in the morning of Monday, and my team and I have just hit the road to continue our work along the West Coast of Africa.

AFCON 2023 has been a great football fiesta and an incredible experience. It is one of the most dramatic AFCONs in recent times.

I am the first to admit that the better team won last night. The Elephants earned their victory. I congratulate them. On the night, lifted by the unprecedented and total support of Ivorians, Elephants ‘flew’ like Eagles.

The total attendance at the match was a little over 57000. All 57000 wore the orange of Cote D’Ivoire, and ‘killed’ any effort of the members of the Nigerian Football Supporters Club to rise above the din.

Now is not a time for any forensics or audit of Nigeria’s performance in the final match. It is, technically, almost a replica of the semi-final match during which the drama and suspense of the match truncated the lives of 4 Nigerians, the ultimate price to pay for love of one’s national team. I commiserate with their families again.

Finally, I congratulate the Super Eagles for taking us to the finals, and the effort they put up, for three weeks lifting the spirit of Nigerians and relieving them of some of the mental and physical pain the whole country is going through in these tough times in our history.

The Ivorians showed clearly that they wanted to win the trophy more. And so they did!

My final words.
I watched on Social-Media yesterday, as Jose Mourinho told the world that he ‘sold’ Nigeria a dummy – Jose Paseiro, his closest friend in football. Is associated friendship the credential for coaching the Super Eagles?

On behalf of Nigerians, we thank Jose Mourinho. We also thank his friend for the services he rendered the Super Eagles and fulfilling his limited target. We
Meanwhile, our sights are set on bigger targets now, and we would require a new coach with confirmed technical competence and qualifications (not friendship) and higher ambitions.

Paseiro himself knows that his relationship with Nigeria should come to an end here.
He shall be paid all his entitlements and properly sent forth.

Mourinho can help us take his friend away, and sell him to whoever else wants his closest friend as coach.

I commend the players for getting to the finals. They could have done better in the manner they played the finals, but I can understand how difficult it is to play under such overwhelming crowd intimidation. We did the same thing to win in 1980 against a better Algerian opposition.

The Super Eagles deserve a big welcome in Nigeria for their heroics. I hope the government and Nigerians will receive them like the true heroes that they are!

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