Many global soccer watchers are still amazed at the astonishing 4-0 spanking Nigeria’s Super Eagles handed out to Cameroon’s Indomitable Lions in the first leg of their back-to-back World Cup qualifiers on Friday, August 31; only to continue the flow with a 1-1 draw in Yaoundé, in which the African champions had to rely on a dubious late penalty to pull level. While the world wonders over the turnaround for a team that lost their previous home game in Uyo 2-0 against South Africa in an AFCON 2019 qualifier, SportsDay’s Port Harcourt correspondent, BIBIAN ONWUGBOLU unfolds the answer in this special feature … as she reveals the qualitative role played by Nigeria’s latest yet biggest football sponsors, AITEO…
Nigeria beat Cameroon 4-0, on 1/9/17 during the World Cup Qualifying match. Pundits and soccer experts wrote off Nigeria and had Cameroon, the former Champions leading. What happened? The AITEO N2.5 billion benevolent intervention helped.
This proves that the Nigerian National soccer team never lacked good talent, but that the Nigerian National soccer team always had issues with paying their coach’s salaries, player bonuses, expenses, hotel bills and flight fares.
For the first time in ages, the coach’s salary was paid, the coach was in his full element and the entire team was highly motivated, thanks to the AITEO financial intervention.
The Nigerian soccer team was inspired, confident and relaxed that all bills were paid (as opposed to the former times when players and coaches paid for all themselves, all were dejected and most were hardly reimbursed).
The foreign coach was in his element. The team played with confidence and the 4-0 result speaks for itself.
AITEO will be paying NFF for the next 5 years to ensure that there is proper funding for such, especially, that the coach’s salary is always paid as when due, to help avoid embarrassments and having an unmotivated coach, which affected the players and the whole National team, in the past.
This non payment of coach’s salaries in the past years, has led to Nigeria’s national team having serious global embarrassments, many unmotivated coaches, player/coach conflicts and poor performance, never for lack of talent, but due to the above listed issues.
This has been solved to an extent, thanks to the kind intervention of AITEO, which also took over the Nigerian Federation Cup (Nigerian Premier League) and it is now known as the AITEO cup. A new era of soccer in Nigeria is taking shape.
In summary, AITEO is quietly at the forefront of helping to restructure Nigeria’s National soccer team and Nigeria’s main football league.
The former Federation Cup is also now known as AITEO CUP, plus, AITEO is supporting the NFF and the Nigerian National team.
The big deal of the moment, though, is the massive role AITEO played in ensuring the Super Eagles pulled off a shocking run of matches against African champions, Cameroon on August 31 in Uyo and September4 in Yaoundé.
The Super Eagles had taken early lead with nine points’ difference in the group which also has Zambia and Algeria but Nigerians were apprehensive about what Cameroon will bring to the contest with their profile as Africa champions.
They also seemingly had an advantage of playing in the Confederations Cup both of which were thought to have provided them ample tune ups to come against a Nigerian side which was not at the AFCON and had few or no opportunities to prepare.
However, the big game turned out a mismatch as Rohr who was on the sidelines of the 2017 AFCON said he took time to study their style and quality and developed the right tactics to deflate them.
At Ahmadu Ahidjo Stadium in Yaoundé on Monday, the Indomitable Lions began on an offensive note with the hope of securing a shocking early goal to put the Super Eagles on back foot but they were resiliently contained by Rohr’s combination of experience and youth who turnover the pressure to unleash unimaginable soccer venom on the host.
Moses Simon who was positioned on our right to wear out the Cameroonians opened the floodgate of goals in the first half when he shook off the two central defenders from Victor Moses killer-pass and drove from the right to the left angle of the post to bright up the day for Nigeria.
At the resumption of play, the Cameroonians attempted to pick up and return to the fight but all their efforts were swept off by Leon Balogun, Ekong Troost and Wilfred Ndidi.
Their hope was however quickly put down until in the 77th minute with Cameroonian initiating an attack which results to a penalty – which eventually helped the Lions get a consolation goal and force a 1-1 draw.