Nigerian Football Fandom Strong as Ever

Friday, September 12th, 2014

Tunde FolawiyoNigeria, as the most populated country on a continent obsessed with football, has ever-high hopes for its national team. The “Super Eagles” saw a 2013 victory in the Africa Cup of Nations over Burkina Faso. Nigeria has appeared in the Africa Cup of Nations six times prior, and won twice previously, in 1980, and 1994. The 2013 victory spurred a strong team spirit approaching this summer’s World Cup, and coach Stephen Keshi, one of only two people to have one the Africa Cup of Nations as a player and then as a coach, headed into the contest confident in his team.

The Super Eagles first made the World Cup in 1994, and have returned every Cup since, except for 2006. Their 2014 showing began with a draw to Iran, and the next match, against Bosnia, saw Peter Odemwingie score a goal that secured the team’s first win in a FIFA World Cup since 1998. Odemwingie, who grew up in Russia and Nigeria, debuted with the Nigerian National Football team in 2002, after a promising start with Nigeria Premier League’s Bendel Insurance. The Nigerian National Team went on to lose to Argentina after holding strong until Marcos Rojo scoring a third for Argentina in the second half. Nigeria did qualify for the last 16, but was ultimately knocked out by France.

Despite this setback, the nation’s football fans have not turned their backs. The team, in fact, was recently described by BusinessWeek as a contender for the world’s “most crazed soccer nation.” A new poll showed that over eighty percent of Nigerians report being fans of the sport, a level of interest that dominates second-runner Indonesia (about seventy-seven percent). Nigeria scored top numbers among the thirty-three nations pooled in the percent of population who report that they play football–a whopping sixty-five percent of Nigerians regularly participate in the sport. The head of research on the survey postulates that Nigeria’s football obsession comes from the lack of competition–no other sport in Nigeria holds nearly the cultural sway.

In a country composed of hundreds of varied ethnic groups, love of the game brings citizens together despite their differences. Almost twenty-five percent of Nigerian adults tuned in to watch the World Cup. The team’s fan’s include Nigerian businessman Tunde Folawiyo, head of the Yinka Folawiyo group, who grew up cheering for Segun Odegbemi. Tunde Folawiyo joins the team’s many fans in Africa and around the world in looking forward to their continued success.

Star Profiles: Nigerian National Football Team

Monday, September 8th, 2014

Despite a showing at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil that some considered a bit disappointing, the Nigerian national football team is looking toward the future. Since their 1994 FIFA world ranking, a stunning 5th place, the Super Eagles have been eager to fulfil their potential on an international stage. The team has a myriad of talented players and is excited for its next chance to return to glory.

John Obi Mikel is the team’s captain, following Joseph Yobo’s retirement in June 2014. Mikel, who also plays midfielder for Chelsea, was born in Nigeria and was picked up by a scout for the Pepsi Football Academy when he was twelve years old. He trailed at Ajax Capetown and later joined Lyn Oslo. He represented Nigeria in the FIFA World Youth Championship in 2005—a year the team made it to the final before suffering a loss to Argentina. After some transfer confusion between Lyn Oslo and Manchester United, Mikel signed with Chelsea in 2006, and the team when on to win the Premier League and FA Cup in 2010. The 2014 World Cup was Mikel’s Cup debut with Nigeria, and he received special commendation for his efforts in the game against Iran.

Tunde FolawiyoAnother young star on the Nigerian national team is Ahmed Musa. He was born in 1992 in Jos, Nigeria, and started his youth career at the Aminchi Football Academy. He nearly made his own World Cup debut at South Africa in 2010, until he was side-lined by an ankle injury. He was the top scoring player in the Nigeria Premier league in 2010. In 2014, Musa set a record as the first player from Nigeria to score twice in a match during the World Cup, netting two goals in the team’s ultimately losing contest against Argentina. Musa played for VVV-Venlo in the Netherlands from 2010 until 2012. Since then, he has been with CSKA Moscow, and was listed among the best players in the Russian championship in 2013.

Nigeria is considered one of the most enthusiastic nations in terms of football viewership as well as participation in the sport, and its fans remain deeply committed. Fans of the team continue to have high hopes for their future glory, including long-time fan Tunde Folawiyo. Those interested in this Nigerian entrepreneur can stay up to date with  Twitter updates from Tunde Folawiyo.

A Sport and a Pastime: Football in Nigeria

Friday, September 5th, 2014

In Nigeria, non-sport has gripped the national imagination the way that football has. It is the country’s most popular sport by a landslide. A larger percent of the country’s population are fans of the sport than in any other country in the world, a recent market poll has shown. The country’s national team, nicknamed the Super Eagles, received the highest ranking any African football team has earned in 1994, when the FIFA World Rankings showed the team in fifth world-wide. The team is currently ranked at fifth in the Confederation of African Football, and 39th worldwide. Fans of football in Nigeria, including Tunde Folawiyo, are looking forward to seeing the team live up to its potential. For more information, please visit this Tunde Folawiyo blog.

Tunde FolawiyoUnofficial games among other African colonies start Nigeria’s national football history in the 1930s, and official records start in the late 1940s. The team’s history as champions began with a win at the second All-Africa games, where the team was awarded the gold medal in 1976. Strong showings at the African Cup of Nations followed, and the team took their first Cup in 1980, led by Muda Lawal. A treasured moment in Nigerian National Football history is the team’s Olympic gold in Atlantic in 1996. The team played its first World Cup in 1994. In this year’s Cup, Nigeria opened with a tie against Iran before a 0-1 victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina showed the team their first World Cup victory since 1998. The winning goal was scored by Peter Odemwingie, who was born in the former Soviet Union and raised in Russia and Nigeria. Odemwingie has played for the Nigerian National Team since 2002.

The Nigerian women’s national team has also been a force in the sport. The team has never failed to qualify for the FIFA Women’s World Cup, and won the CAF Women’s Championship every year it ran, until breaking their streak with a defeat by Equatorial Guinea in 2008. As with the men’s team, outstanding players for the women’s team have also had successful careers playing internationally. Mercy Akide went on to play for the San Diego Spirit and the Hampton Road Piranhas, and current team captain and CAF African Women Footballer of the Year in 2004 and 2005 Perpetua Nkwocha also plays for Swedish club Sunnana SK.

Keshi’s return signals beginning of AFCON preparations

Friday, August 29th, 2014

Eagles supporters such as Tunde Folawiyo will probably be relieved to learn that the NFF (Nigerian Football Federation) is now close to establishing the terms of a new contract with Stephen Keshi, which will result in the coach returning to his former role as the Super Eagles coach. Keshi was appointed to this position in late 2011; since then, he has helped the team to achieve some outstanding results at both CHAN and AFCON.

Tunde Folawiyo However, after guiding the Eagles to the final 16 at the 2014 World Cup, his contract with the NFF was allowed to expire, and it seemed as though he would be forced to bid farewell to the team which he had been coaching for close to three years. Both the Sports Ministry and the NFF were initially reluctant to renew his contract, perhaps due in part to Keshi’s insistence on better terms. However, recent reports indicate that the coach and the NFF have been able to compromise and reach an agreement which suits both parties.

Despite the fact that the salary offered is less than what the coach had originally asked for, he is believed to be willing to accept it, and stay with the team for at least another three years. In a press conference, Keshi explained that overall, he was pleased with the improvements to his contract, adding that he is now ‘ready to serve’, and is looking forward to finishing what he started.

With this matter now settled, Eagles’ fans like Tunde Folawiyo are no doubt eager to see the team begin their preparations for AFCON. Tijani Babangida, a former winger for Nigeria, has advised Keshi and the players to concentrate all of their efforts on readying themselves for this tournament. With less than a month to go until they meet Rwanda for the qualifying match, the pressure is on.

Babangida has said that whilst the Super Eagles are unarguably a strong team, and have the ability to defeat their opponents in upcoming games, they will not do so unless they train intensively over the next few weeks. He noted that the first match of any major tournament is always important, and cautioned the Eagles against taking their game against Rwanda too lightly.

Whilst Folawiyo takes an interest in the world of football, he also has many other passions; for instance, he is fascinated by the lives of important, inspirational figures. To find out more about his thoughts on this subject, read the influential icons blog of Tunde Folawiyo.

Will Keshi leave the Super Eagles?

Monday, August 25th, 2014

Tunde FolawiyoFor his efforts in leading the Super Eagles to the final 16 of this year’s World Cup, Stephen Keshi earned a sum of $300,000. In addition to this, the team’s victory over Bosnia earned the coach another $40,000. However, whilst helping the players to reach this stage of the tournament was certainly a great achievement, Keshi’s critics contend that he did not do his job as well as he should have, thereby implying that perhaps this large payment was not deserved.

In a recent report, a sports commentator argued that there were obvious weaknesses within the squad, which could have been addressed through the inclusion of players such as Reuben Gabriel. It was also asserted that there were several team members who should not have made the squad, including John Obi Mikel.

Those who support the Eagles, like Tunde Folawiyo, may know that Chief Michael Ajayi had much to say on this subject as well; in a press conference in Lagos, the retired referee criticised Keshi for selecting what he described as a ‘structurally defective’ group of players. He said that, when one looked closely at who had been chosen for the squad, it was clear that they could not possibly make it past the round of 16.

Shortly after Nigeria was eliminated from the World Cup, rumours began to fly regarding Keshi’s future with the Super Eagles. It was suggested that he would almost certainly be leaving, and that SAFA (the South African Football Association) were going to offer him the job of head coach of Bafana Bafana. However, whilst SAFA did acknowledge that Keshi was in the running for this position, they later announced that they would be hiring Ephraim Masaba instead.

In light of this information, fans such as Tunde Folawiyo are no doubt wondering what Keshi’s next move will be. The coach has admitted that he would be very happy to remain in his current role, provided there were some improvements to his contractual conditions, as there have been some issues regarding delays with his salary in the past. Immediately after the World Cup, the NFF refused to comment on the matter; however, they have since released a statement, explaining that they are now in talks with Keshi, and are hoping to extend his contract, although they cannot guarantee that this will happen.

The above-mentioned Eagles’ supporter Folawiyo is a well-known entrepreneur. If you would like to learn more about him, read the Frontiers success story on Tunde Folawiyo.

How will Nigeria fare at AFCON?

Friday, August 22nd, 2014

Tunde FolawiyoEarlier this year, it was revealed that Nigeria would be facing Sudan and South Africa in the Group A matches of the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations. This announcement was welcomed by many Eagles supporters, as neither of these opponents are considered to be stronger than the Eagles, and as such, it should be relatively easy for Nigeria to qualify. The Group winner, along with the first runner up, will be joining Morocco – the host team – for the final tournament.

It’s safe to say that many fans, including Tunde Folawiyo, are probably quite anxious to see Nigeria retain the title, following their extraordinary performance last year. Whilst some may doubt their ability to win again, two Eagles defenders – namely, Juwon Oshaniwa and Kenneth Omeruo – are sure that Nigeria are capable of achieving this. Oshaniwa, who was a member of the squad at AFCON last year, contends that the Leagues will serve as the ideal form of preparation for the tournament, and will ensure that the entire team is fit and active when the time comes. He finished by saying that he himself is looking forward to defending the title in Morocco.

Omeruo seemed equally confident; in an interview, he stated that with the support of coaches, the Eagles will have no difficulty in holding on to the trophy. The defender, who also plays for Middlesbrough, explained that the team have an extremely skilled coaching crew, who will not only be able to guide them in their training, but who will also be able to select the most suitable players for the squad. It will probably come as a relief to Tunde Folawiyo, and other Eagles supporters, to hear that the team members are so certain that they will do well.

For others, their concerns lie not with the team’s ability to succeed at the event, but with whether or not they will actually be permitted to participate. Christian Chukwu, a former coach of the Eagles, has called on the Nigerian Football Federation and the Sports Minister to find a way to resolve their differences, and thus end the FIFA suspension which has been placed on all Nigerian teams. Chukwu, who worked with the Eagles throughout most of the seventies and eighties, has said that only when the NFF board is reinstated and the suit withdrawn will the players be able to focus on preparing for AFCON.

As a supporter of the Eagles, Folawiyo may sometimes express his thoughts on the team via social media. Those interested in reading about such subjects can follow Tunde Folawiyo on Twitter.

Odemwingie Future with Super Eagles Uncertain

Friday, August 8th, 2014

Tunde FolawiyoNow that the Super Eagles’ World Cup venture has come to an end, the future of one of the team’s most beloved players remains uncertain. Peter Odemwingie has stated he is currently unsure of a future with Nigeria upon an early exit at this year’s World Cup. The forward secured the team’s only win with a goal against Bosnia-Herzegovina, demonstrating his great talents on the field. Tunde Folawiyo and millions of Super Eagles fans throughout Africa and beyond may be saddened to see the skilled player part ways with the Nigerian squad as his contributions have proved vastly significant in the recent success of the team.

Whilst the Nigerian squad indeed looked promising ahead of the World Cup in Brazil, advancing past the first round, the team sadly came up short –  Stephen Keshi’s team failed to triumph over France during the last16 knockout period, putting an end to Nigeria’s World Cup hopes. Whilst his future remains uncertain, ‘Osaze’ regards wearing the green jersey as one of the proudest accomplishments of his career. ‘Osaze’ made his Super Eagles debut during 2002, where he has since represented the team more than 60 times, twice at the World Cup and through four Cups of Nations included. He was also part of the team that went on to win a silver medal during the Olympics of 2008.

The Stoke City footballer was raised in both Nigeria and Russia, beginning his professional career in Nigeria’s Premiere League. The forward went on to play European football for La Louviere of Belgium, where he played three seasons ahead of a move to Lille. He scored an impressive 26 goals for the team, prompting Moscow’s Lokomotiv to extend an offer of £10 million in exchange for his services during July of 2007. Scoring 23 times for the team, during a three-and-a-half year period, ‘Osaze’ moved to West Bromwich Albion during August of 2010. Thirty Premiere League points later, he was awarded among the Premiere League’s Players of the Month three times. Later, he was acquired by Cardiff City during August of 2013 before ultimately joining the Stoke City team in exchange for Kenwyne Jones during January of 2014.

As one of Africa’s most popular soccer stars, Odemwingie’s fate will undoubtedly be a topic of conversation for Super Eagles fans across Africa and beyond. His contributions to Stoke City and the Nigerian national team alike may continue to regard him as an inspiration to African citizens like Tunde Folawiyo and millions of others around the world.

South Africa Approaches Nigeria’s Former Coach

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Tunde FolawiyoAs the Super Eagles of Nigeria recover from a short-lived World Cup venture, rumours of Coach Stephen Keshi’s fate with the team continue to swirl. Nigeria’s head coach has announced South Africa as one of the countries who have approached him to manage their teams upon the conclusion of the Super Eagles World Cup trek. Now that that time has come, fans of the Super Eagles may await news of the coach’s future with breath that is baited. Tunde Folawiyo and millions of others with a passion for Nigerian football may find the coming months to prove significant to the club’s future.

South Africa is seeking new leadership upon its national team’s failure to qualify for participation in the 2014 World Cup. With Gordon Igesund’s contract set to expire in July, the head coach position is up for grabs, prompting the interest in Keshi. Whilst South Africa carries the largest league revenue of any team in the continent, Bafana Bafana has won Africa’s CON only once, also failing to regularly qualify for World Cup treks.

Dubbed “Big Boss” by fans, Keshi has captained the Super Eagles for over a decade. Throughout his playing career, he lent his talents to Nigeria, Belgium, Ivory Coast and France. During 2002, he served as assistant coach for the national team, the same year the team was a World Cup qualifier. He later serves as coach for Togolese’s national team, assisting them to qualify before being let go just before their World Cup venture began. He went on to manage Mali’s team before taking over as head coach for the Super Eagles during 2012. He led them to a Cup of Nations victory last year.

South Africa’s Football Association recently stated that no coach had yet been appointed, also mentioning a July decision. Spokesman Dominic Chimhavi declined to further comment.

According to a list provided by the spokesman, a number of prominent coaches are interested in South Africa’s vacancy. The list includes Manchester United’s recently sacked coach David Moyes and Iran’s current coach, Carlos Queiroz, along with Keshi. France’s former captain Marcel Desailly sits on the list, as well, as do Chelsea’s Jimmy Hasselbaink and former Chelsea coach Avram Grant. French Coach Herve Renard, Italy’s Giovanni Trapattoni and the Netherlands’ Patrick Kluivert are all other names competing for the coveted title of South Africa’s head coach. Tunde Folawiyo and millions of devoted Nigeria fans may wish to hold on to Keshi, given the Super Eagles’ great success in recent seasons. Regardless of South Africa’s decision, Keshi’s contributions to Nigeria are undisputable.

Nigeria Coach Keshi Resigns Following World Cup Exit

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Tunde FolawiyoSuper Eagles’ Coach Stephen Keshi has resigned, prompting speculation of a move to South Africa where Coach Gordon Igesund is nearing a contract expiration. It has recently been reported that Keshi leads a short list of prospective replacements. Whilst the seasoned coach has led the Super Eagles to success since his start with the club in 2011, South Africa’s poor recent history may benefit from an experienced manager with a reputation like that of Keshi’s. Given the Nigerian team’s triumphs in recent seasons, loyal Super Eagles fans like Tunde Folawiyo and others throughout Africa and beyond may be saddened to see the coach depart Nigeria.

Keshi’s decision came after the beloved Super Eagles’ failure to advance past the first round in the World Cup, following a disappointing 2-0 loss to France. In spite of the rumours, the NFF has chosen to remain tight-lipped about the departure. As a new free agent, Keshi has been quoted referencing his family and fresh challenges awaiting him. Dennis Mumble, South Africa’s CEO, has been unavailable for comment regarding the Keshi resignation.

Since his start with the team in 2011, Keshi has led Nigeria to a Cup of Nations championship and a World Cup qualification, demonstrating his coaching capabilities. First reports of a South African switch emerged during World Cup stage matches. Whilst it was rumored that Keshi would agree to a two-year period with Safa, the team dismissed these rumors in a statement, announcing club leaders would have reached a decision by mid-July.

Keshi was appointed Nigeria’s coach during 2011, kicking off a successful leadership of one of Africa’s most popular sports teams. He led the team to victory at Africa’s national Cup last year, also helping the Super Eagles secure a World Cup qualification. Whilst the group stage match portion of the World Cup was riddled with rumors of a two-year agreement with Safa, the team later issued a statement dismissing any such deal with Nigeria’s coach. A long list of popular coaches are said to stand under consideration to replace Igesund upon his contract expiration, with Dick Advocaat, Frank Rijkaard and Carlos Queiroz most prominent amongst them. European coaches Bernd Schuster and Juande Ramos are also rumored to be considered as Ramos has chosen against renewing his current contract with Ukraine’s Dnipro. Super Eagles fans like Tunde Folawiyo and millions of others throughout Africa and beyond may eagerly await news of a Keshi move to Safa.

A look at the Super Eagles’ progress at the World Cup

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

Tunde FolawiyoSupporters of the Super Eagles, like Tunde Folawiyo, were no doubt relieved and delighted by  their victory over Bosnia and Herzegovina last week. Peter Odemwingie was responsible for the goal which ended the team’s nine year spell of World Cup matches in which they failed to win. The game finished with a score of 1-0, which led to Bosnia being eliminated from the tournament.

Nigeria were given other opportunities to score, but their efforts proved fruitless, with a free kick taken seven minutes into the match failing to reach the net, and Onazi’s long-range attempts continually saved by Begovic. Commentators noted that, following Nigeria’s draw with Iran, Bosnia possibly made the mistake of underestimating the Eagles’ abilities. Their lacklustre performance during this first match, coupled with the absence of some of their star players, such as Sunday Mba, may have led their opponents to conclude that Nigeria simply weren’t up to the task – an error in judgement which  could very well have been the cause of Bosnia’s defeat.

After the match, Odemwingie spoke of his team’s success, noting that the result is likely to have silenced their detractors. He added that it had been difficult for the Eagles to earn their three points, but that they were thrilled to have made such a comeback, following their somewhat disappointing performance against Iran.  Nigeria’s coach, Keshi, also spoke of the victory, saying that he was thrilled with the ‘fighting spirit’ which his team had demonstrated, but was not surprised by how well they had done, as he had always been confident that they would reach the round of 16.

However, regardless of how far the Eagles go in this tournament, Keshi will be leaving them after it ends. Fans of the Eagles, like Tunde Folawiyo, are doubtless saddened by this news. It has been reported that Keshi will be transferring to the South Africa Soccer Federation immediately after the World Cup finishes, in order to manage Bafana Bafana for the next two years. This development follows the news that South Africa fired the team’s previous coach, Gordon Igesund, after they drew in the match against Australia last month. According to recent news reports, the South African club has been impressed by how Keshi has managed the Eagles, and are hoping he will be able to improve Bafana Bafana.