I read today that Nigeria President Goodluck Jonathan suspended the national team from international competition for the next two years following their poor performance in the World Cup. Special Adviser Ima Niburo told reporters that the President’s withdraw directive was to “enable Nigeria to reorganise its football,” (The national team was knocked out in the first round).
With all due respect to a Presidential directive, absolute suspension like that will just make the players go soft and lag behind other teams. They need to review their objectives and strategy, no doubt, but competing only at national levels (for two years!) will set the team back for four, at least. Any team, even as good as Nigeria (ranks 21st and holds the third highest place among the African nations behind Egypt (12th) and Cameroon (19th). Their highest position ever reached on the ranking was 5th in April 1994. They have also won a gold medal at the 1996 Summer Olympics, according to FIFA rankings, quoted by Wikipedia) would lose its edge if they don’t measure their performance against the best international teams.
If I were President, I’d deploy partial suspension. I’d tell the national team to re-look at what they want to achieve in the next World Cup, and then plan how they are going to achieve that. Instead of suspending them from international competition, I’d suspend financing and tell them to find their own means of getting themselves there.
Alternatively, I’d give them a simpler directive. I’d give them funding for a swanky new team. Big rewards for scouts that comb comb the country for talents. And I’d send them out for all competitons. With only one target: they need to win every match. If they don’t achieve that goal, they’re off the team. Forever. The permanent red card, so to speak. And we start again with nationwide search for talents and building up the juniors.
How about that?