The events leading to Nigeria’s Qatar 2022 failure shares similar patterns to the Spain 1982 world cup miss.
History may not repeat itself but it rhymes when people take similar steps.
The Green Eagles of Nigeria were just one step away from qualifying for the 1982 World Cup in Spain when the then NFA Chairman, retd Col.Mike Okwechime (deceased), took a strange decision.
He demanded that they invite Christian Chukwu and Thompson Usiyen (deceased) back to the team.
It was almost two years after Chukwu retired from the Green Eagles immediately after winning the 1980 AFCON.
While the U.S.-based Usiyen last played for Nigeria in 1977 before travelling to the USA.
Nigeria’s Qatar 2022 failure: Tale of Two German Coaches.
At that time, the Green Eagles were under the tutelage of a German gaffer Gottlieb Goller (former coach of Hawks of Togo and Julius Berger FC of Lagos) after the departure of Coach Otto Gloria.
40 years later another German coach recently lost his job and the NFF appointed a Nigeria coach, Augustine Eguavoen.
When a Comeback Goes Awry
Okwechime’s decision to force the two players on Goller and the team certainly threw the spanner in the wheels to derail Nigeria’s chances of clinching a World Cup ticket alongside Cameroon.
And as if by Poetic Justice, the Desert Foxes on Oct.10, 1981, trounced a disjointed Green Eagles 2-0 in front of 80,000 fans in Lagos to dash Nigeria’s chances of going to the world cup.
Similarly, Nigeria called back retired striker Ighalo back into the national team to help out with the playoff game vs Ghana.
Despite having Victor Osimhen in the form of his life, the NFF still wanted Ighalo in the team.
Although he didn’t lead the line, it bears a resemblance to the 1982 disaster.