The acronym for the phrase ‘what would Jesus do?’ is a common – WWJD. However there are several others for the acronym. Like, ‘what would Rihanna do?’
I chose Nigeria because they’re our neighbours, but also because they are also our rivals. The rivalry is real! But I say so in jest, because I wish them well! But with the squad they are assembling, I thought who best to start a series of ‘what would (blank) do?’, but with our local rivals.
After Ghana’s defeat to South Africa in our WCQ. The poor performance led to CK Akonnor to lose his position as head coach. Since then, Ghana have reappointed Milovan Rajevac, the man who led Ghana to within a whisker away from a World Cup semi-final (2010). With Milovan, Ghana have appointed Maxwell Konadu and Otto Addo as his assistants.
With the way the performances and results were shaping. Time will tell if this was a planned in advanced, or whether this was a rushed appointment. Either way, knowledge and experience has been brought in.
Knowledge and experience is needed at this precise moment because of our precarious position. 3 months before the AFCON’s and 13 months before the World Cup in Qatar – to which we still need to qualify for! Missing out on Russia 2018 was a massive blow! So to miss out on Qatar would be disastrous.
What are the key areas that need addressing?
The job is challenging. But it’s an exciting project! A team in transition, with a blend of youth and experience. The issues, apart from our playing style, is that the balance between youth and experience that hasn’t been corrected. And following failing to qualify for Russia in 2018, there hasn’t been much direction with 13 months to Qatar 2022.
To more of the issues. With a number of players now plying their trade in some of the most exciting teams and leagues in Europe. Some are yet to be capped! And for the successful players coming out of our youth teams, opportunity has been come hard to come by.
But to our question and title of our article, what would Nigeria do?
Nigeria were Olympic bronze medallists in Rio, and coming off the back of the World Cup, Nigeria would have been buoyed by their performance, despite elimination to an inspired Lionel Messi’s Argentina. Nigeria are a team of youth and experience. Led by their statesman William Ekong, who is followed by a crop of exciting young players, including scoring hotshot Victor Osimhen.
Nigeria don’t have issues attracting players to play for them. Unlike Ghana! The diaspora travel far and wide to represent The Super Eagles, which adds to the balance of their youth and experience. With that experience behind them, with players playing in some of the most exciting leagues and teams in Europe, as well as Olympic glory and World Cup experience, Nigeria have much to look forward to in Cameroon! And hopefully Qatar should they qualify.
Ghana on the other hand – In recent years, we have failed to qualify for Olympics, and missed out on the World Cup in 2018. And despite a lot of potential in the current squad (which we’ve covered), we have issues attracting players to play for us, the diaspora. We have youth and experience, but don’t have the blend! Which is what cost CK Akonnor his role as head coach.
With the AFCON’s months away, and the World Cup on the horizon, it’s time to get it right.
Looking on as a fellow African nation, what have Nigeria done in recent time to be successful?
- Early talent identification. Ghana, like Nigeria have a huge population outside of Africa. It’s to this, one of the reasons why they have a big pool of quality players to choose from.
- They also have a proud identity! Players from all corners of the world of Nigerian decent, are very proud to wear the green and white of Nigeria.
- My final bullet point is in reference to their brand. Nigeria’s football kits and culture has made it to mainstream media. Their music, lifestyle, and culture is at the forefront of popular culture. And in addition, their football kits have been viral sensations.
There are other factors, but for me these are some of the key components. It’s with this you create competition for places. A medium to long term project with a group and generation of players. And, as we’ve seen with all African countries. Camaraderie with things like jamas, create a bond and connection. As a group, and as a country.
‘What would Nigeria do’ to improve the circumstances around the current state of our national side? What are the differences in approach?
I would say probably all of the 3 bullet points. Attracting and identifying talent is a huge part of the process. And in having a huge pool with diaspora, in countries like the UK, Italy, Netherlands, and Germany, Ghana must take advantage of this. As to bullet point 2. I would interject and say in Ghana we do have a proud identity, but it’s just different as opposed to Nigeria’s. And to bullet point 3, branding and creating an identity is important, as we’ve seen this Summer with England at the Euros, and many other nations. At the moment, I don’t know what Ghana’s identity with the national side is.
What would you do? What do you think?
As with our podcast. Like, comment with your views, share and subscribe/follow. We’ll be publishing another article, another ‘what would (blank) do?’ towards the end of October. We’ll posting as usual vía social media keeping up with the stories as they unfold in the coming weeks. As always if you have any questions or queries. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet or DM us at @teamghanaeu on IG or Twitter.
Written by Andrew Mensah-Twumasi @andrewmensahjr (IG/Twitter)
- Nigeria kit promo image (www.versus.uk.com)
- William Ekong (www.guardian.ng)
- Milovan Rajevac (www.ghanasoccernet.com)
- Nigeria bronze medal at the Olympics (www.guardian.ng)
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