Super Eagles captain, Ahmed Musa, recently delivered a powerful speech in Lagos aimed at rejuvenating the team’s spirit as they strive to secure a fourth AFCON title in Ivory Coast next year.
Highlighting various aspects of his journey and the challenges faced by the team, Musa focused on the growing concern about Nigerian fans’ interest in betting rather than supporting their national football team.
In this article, we will delve into Musa’s insightful remarks and shed light on the pressing issue at hand.
Recognizing My Roots and Overcoming Challenges
Musa’s speech began with a heartfelt expression of gratitude towards his former coaches and teammates.
Recognizing the privilege of playing for both the Super Eagles and the U-23 and U-20 teams, Musa conveyed his unwavering commitment to giving his best on the field, regardless of the playing time he receives.
Moreover, Musa acknowledged the vital role played by former Nigerian Football Federation President, Amaju Pinnick, who believed in his abilities when he was facing career challenges at Leicester City. Pinnick’s unwavering support helped Musa shine at the 2018 World Cup.
The Importance of the Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL)
Musa emphasized the significance of the NPFL and the need to invest in elevating the local league’s status.
Reflecting on the 2013 AFCON tournament, Musa revealed that the team’s victory against Ivory Coast was a turning point, made possible by the belief placed in home-based players by late coaches Stephen Keshi and Daniel Amokachi.
Having started his football journey in the local league, Musa urged for a renewed focus on developing local talents and providing them with opportunities in the Super Eagles. By reintegrating local players, Nigerian football can harness its full potential.
Young Players and Media Pressure
Expressing concern for the younger players, Musa pleaded with the media to handle their pressure with care.
Understanding the impact of social media on players’ performances, he called out the undue criticism faced by his teammates after matches.
Musa stressed the importance of guidance from experienced players such as Mikel Obi and Victor Moses, asserting that a balanced team composition is necessary for success.
Highlighting the detrimental effects of betting on fans’ passion, Musa urged media professionals to remember the vulnerability of young players in the face of intense scrutiny.
The Weight of National Pride and Fan Expectations
Musa passionately shared his love for Nigeria and the pride he feels when donning the country’s jersey.
Acknowledging the immense pressure players face owing to fans’ expectations, he revealed the personal toll it takes on him and his teammates.
Being aware of the impact on his family, Musa stressed the need for fans to understand the players’ emotional connection to Nigeria.
Additionally, he acknowledged the financial implications faced by players when the national team fails to qualify for major tournaments, leading to personal losses.
The Encroachment of Betting Culture
Lamenting the encroachment of betting culture in Nigerian football, Musa acknowledged the shift in fans’ priorities.
He revealed the growing trend of fans demanding refunds and hurling insults at players on social media when their betting predictions go awry.
Musa pleaded for fans to regain their love and passion for the Super Eagles, shifting the focus back to the importance of supporting the national team.
He suggested that the alluring appeal of foreign leagues should not detract from the rich talent pool present in the local league.