The mine-field on the road to 2026 World Cup!

Published on: 10 June 2024

At 5:00pm this evening, in less than three hours, the Super Eagles of Nigeria will be navigating through a dangerous minefield laid on the route to the 2026 FIFA World Cup by the Cheetahs of Benin Republic.

I woke up this morning with a burden on my mind. So, I called and had a very short but deep conversation with a major ‘player’ in the Nigerian team in Abidjan, Cote D’Ivoire.

I shared a few humble tips and a large dose of psychology with him.

Psychology is what is most needed in this match designed for victory for the Eagles by the Elements. How else can I interpret the prevailing circumstances?

Abidjan is not a neutral ground for both teams. The venue is home to the Super Eagles. This is the ground on which the Eagles have played some their most successful football matches in the past 10 years. This is a venue that has ‘good luck’ for the Eagles etched on the lush, grassy turf where the Eagles players from Europe can comfortably play their best football and thrive.

Nigeria shall win well if the team plays the match without panic, confidently and comfortability dominating the opposition.

With some spice of good luck, the Eagles will snub out any resistance from the Lilliputian Cheetahs right from the start, and climb on their backs to secure a better foothold and a more respectable place on the group table.

So, I am preparing to watch a good game today, one that will restore the confidence of Nigerians on the team and their new coach who is still mastering the management of the pressures that go with high-tension matches.

Nigeria shall win by playing the better football on the night - calmly, confidently and clinically in front of goal.

Play Semiu (if at all) from a slightly different position in the defense; play Paul Unuachi (if at all) but not from the start. Wilfred Ndidi will make a big difference. This is the soft match to test Boniface’s quality in African football.

On all counts the two teams are not at par. In terms of player content, ability, experience and team records, the difference is like that between the sun and the moon.

The match is entirely in the hands of the manager to win or to lose depending on the choice and usage of players available, plus how well the players are tempered psychologically to set aside any anxiety, enjoy their football and convert the goal scoring chances that may come in abundance on this day.

Good luck, Super Eagles!


Dr. Olusegun Odegbami MON, OLY, AFNIIA, FNIS