The first tragedy of the Eagles’ performance tonight was the revelation that many Nigerians truly believed that in the absence of quality preparation and good organization, the predictions of the so-called ‘Marcus the mystic pig’ would spur the team to victory.
For those who have followed the sub-par performances of Nigeria’s sports teams over the past few years, this timid and uninspiring show against a lacklustre Croatian side didn’t come as a surprise, it is consistent with the trend.
There is apparently a correlation between the Mediocre performance of the country’s leadership and the performance of her sports teams; the one rises or falls with the other. And they both seem to be on a consistent decline.
These Eagles, much like the country’s leadership, were feckless, lacked imagination and creativity, and had very little ambition. The surprise was not their horrible performance, the surprise was that we expected them to perform, to give in essence, what they do not have. This is a clear case of harmful illusion, the natural consequence of reliance by humans on predictions by pigs!
It is the same illusion that has many of our people still expecting Buhari’s APC or Jonathan’s PDP to fix our country, and give her the sort of ambitious and creative leadership required to harness her potentials and unleash the limitless imagination and creative force of her proud people; the kind of leadership of which the Buharis, Jonathans, and their co-travellers are simply incapable.
Also, this illusion seems to have blinded us to our collective low self-esteem borne out by the fact that more than half a century since our first participation in international football, we still rely on the questionable expertise of a string of under-achieving Europeans – fraudulently tagged ‘expatriates’ – who turn in mediocre performances after pocketing very high wages from our lean national purse.
This illusion speaks to our national vanity and led us to the ridiculous celebration of sports kits made by a foreign company rather than question why in 2018 we cannot kit our teams domestically. This is beside the curious stupidity of celebrating our team’s fashionable kits in a tournament where laurels are won by performance, not fashion.
While it is almost certain – especially to those of us not caught in this collective illusion – that these Eagles will deservedly end up a flop in Russia, there is the consolation that this team is a poor representation of our actual abilities in this and other sports; and the sooner we fix our leadership question, the sooner a competent and gallant set of Eagles managed by one of our own, will emerge and conquer the world.
Until then, we might remain steeped in our collective illusion, celebrate mediocrity in the name of patriotism, and ultimately rely on the vacuous predictions of ‘Marcus the mystic pig’ or, perhaps next time it will be ‘Marcello the prophetic rat’!
Written by: Onyinye Gandhi, An Attorney, International Finance and Investment Consultant, Policy Analyst, Public Speaker, Humanist.