By Mark A. Upaa
No male Nigerian soccer player is considered good enough to play on the Africa 11. This was made evident during the unveiling of Africa’s Best 11 during the recently concluded CAF/AITEO awards ceremony, held in Dakar, Senegal, on Teusday night.
Africa’s Best X1 players In the selection, Include African Footballer of the Year, Mohamed Salah of Egypt and Liverpool who leads an attacking trio that consist Sadio Mane of Senegal and Liverpool and Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang of Arsenal and Gabon. In the midfield are Riyad Mahrez of Algeria and Manchester City, Naby Keita of Guinea and Liverpool and Thomas Partey, of Ghana and Atletico Madrid. Kalidou Koulibaly, who plays for Senegal and SSC Napoli, Eric Bailly, Ivory Coast and Manchester United, Medhi Benatia, of Morocco and Juventus and Serge Aurier of Ivory Coast and Tottenham Hotspur are in the defence. To keep the goal is Denis Onyango, who plays for Uganda and South African Premier Soccer League club Mamelodi Sundowns.
This revelation has once again highlighted the atrocious state of Nigerian sports in general and football in particular, this is even more alarming, because Football is seen by many Nigerians as a National pastime and passion. If there has ever been the need for a wake up call towards Nigeria’s sports administrators that time is now. Kudos must be given to our female team for their heroics during the last womens championship on the continent, we also appreciate that the Super Eagles qualification for the AFCON coming up in July. But the fact that we are celebrating ‘QUALIFICATION’ (we have failed to qualify for the last 2 editions) for an event we clearly have all it takes to compete favourably with other African nations who are perrenial contenders, is just another damning confirmation of the ineptitude of the individuals chargedmwith steering the affairs of our sports. This latest embarrasment is just a reflection of the torrid state of affairs in our leagues, among administrators and even the sportsmen and woman. We all need to up our game, if we want to be acknowledged as the ‘giants of Africa’.