I woke up this morning (17 September) to the news that the latest FIFA rankings were out for the month of September. FIFA rankings are the only measure we have of knowing the positions of each country in the world of football and a lot of factors come into play when determining these ranks.
For me, today was particularly pleasing, because, for the first time in a long time, the country I have a hand in coaching; my native country of origin as well – Nigeria – is now in the top 30 of world football by the latest FIFA ranking! Number 29 in the world, which has 211 officially accredited footballing nations!
This is no mean feat, and I am particularly pleased and elated at this.
We have not played international football since November 2019. The coronavirus pandemic has affected everyone. But what is remarkable is that the countries who have played, who were in and around us on the ranking, still were not able to upstage us and keep us out of the top 30!
For me, this is an achievement that I want to celebrate.
Suffice to note that in 2016 when I officially joined the coaching crew of Gernot Rohr who took over as Head Coach of the Super Eagles, Nigeria was number 67 in the world, and 13th best in Africa.
It has been a long and rocky road. There have been challenges. Adversaries have been very active in trying to downplay what we have done so far. And today I shout out to us all – those of us who believed, those members of the team that stayed together in unity, in harmony and in solidarity to ward off the adversities – because this achievement is for us all.
Every member of the team – from the Head Coach Gernot Rohr to his technical staff (past and present), to every single player who has played a part in any of our 39 matches so far, to every member of the backroom staff – medical, administrative, equipment and media and the leadership of the Nigeria Football Federation – all played a major part in achieving this far.
The fans, the people of Nigeria….the ever aware, ever present and ever loving people who have used their words and prayers to guide and support us….can not be ignored.
Our discipline and togetherness is one feature that I have not seen in many years of my involvement in football, and I am dead proud to be a part of it.
Some have said we probably have not done enough – that by now we should be ruling Africa, ruling the world. Some have been even more scathing in their criticism.
Their words have motivated us, and galvanised us, and will continue to do so, as we believe we can do even better, and can rise even higher in the rankings.
We remain humble, steadfast and committed, and we believe that the support and love of those who have been behind us till this day, will spur us to even greater achievements, going forward.
Watch this space – the Super Eagles will continue to soar.