For the second time in nearly 16 years since Nigeria failed to reach the FIFA World Cup finals after her debut appearance in 1994, the Super Eagles will be missing in action again as the 22nd edition of the FIFA Men’s World Cup kicks-off tomorrow in Qatar with the opening match between the host nation, Qatar and Ecuador at Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor. The continent of Africa is represented by reigning AFCON champions Senegal, Cameroon, Morocco, Tunisia and Ghana who clinched their ticket at the expense of perennial rivals, the Super Eagles. With the Super Eagles absent in Qatar, several sports loving Nigerians are expectedly sad as they won’t have the opportunity to watch their darling team in action on the world’s biggest stage. However, most of such disappointed fans have since switched their support to other nations and in some cases, to certain players that they adore. Speaking to Trust Sports, some fans said they will be watching certain matches that would feature their idols such as Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Neymar Jnr, Kylian Mbappe and a host of others.
Lawani Charles, a banker with one of the new generation banks said he was highly disappointed with the Super Eagles but will only be watching good football as he is not supporting any team.
“I was so disappointed with the Super Eagles after they failed to clinch that ticket. It was so painful because we gave them every support but they failed. I don’t have a particular team as I just want to watch good football. I will just watch any of the top teams like Brazil, Argentina, Belgium, Senegal and co,” he said.
Ekundayo Sawyerr, a lottery Compliance Officer with one of the leading betting companies in Nigeria said in the absence of Nigeria, he is supporting Senegal.
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“I am fully supporting Senegal as they are my African brothers. They are the AFCON champions and I love the way they play. We all saw how they performed in Cameroon and I believe they will do well. I can’t remember their group stage opponents but I will root for their success all through. If they exit at the group stage, all well and good but I am praying they get to at least the quarter finals. Anything after that is a bonus,” he said.
Promise Ifeoma, a health practitioner, said with or without Super Eagles, she will be supporting, according to her, the best player in the world, Lionel Messi.
“I am not supporting any team but the GOAT, the greatest player on earth, Lionel Messi. The World Cup trophy is the only piece of silverware missing in his cabinet and this is the last opportunity for him to earn that. He nearly got his hands on the trophy in 2014 and this time he must get it, by the grace of God,” she prayed.
Fakunle Anthony, a computer scientist, who expressed his love for Barcelona said he will be watching a former club legend, Messi at the World Cup.
“I am a die-hard Barcelona fan and I have always loved Messi. He may not be in our club any longer but his name is forever mentioned in the club. I am just going to watch Messi play in the world cup. But to answer your question on the team I will support since Nigeria is missing, it will be Senegal. I will be a Senegalese when it kicks off,” he enthused.
Chidi Kalu, a footballer with an Abuja based club, Jstars FC said he will also be supporting Senegal as a team but will be watching Cristiano Ronaldo.
“I love Ronaldo so much. He is my idol. He is my GOAT. As a footballer, I aspire to be like him, make waves like him. He is someone I admire and I always watch his matches to build up my own game. So, in this World Cup, I will be watching Ronaldo. Also, Senegal is another team as I believe they will represent Africa well. I equally love Mane and I hope he recovers to play. It will be sad to see the reigning best African player missing on the world stage,” he said.
Kelechi Omeire, a civil servant, re-echoed the disappointment of Nigerians over the failure of the Super Eagles to land in Qatar while throwing his support behind Senegal as well.
“I still feel sad that the Super Eagles will not be at the World Cup. When I remember the stress I went through to watch them play at the stadium, I feel sad. That was my first time seeing them play and they disappointed me so much. Nevertheless, my support is for Senegal. I expect and pray for them to do well in Qatar,” he said.
Cephas Vera, an unemployed graduate also said Super Eagles’ absence at the 2022 World Cup is a sporting disaster and Nigerians will feel the impact when the championship commences tomorrow.
“Missing the World Cup is devastating for me. I don’t think people will realize this until the tournament begins. I also feel there are many young and exciting talents around Europe who should have been chosen, the selection process was poor. Portugal will have all my support.
On his part, businessman, Chijioke Enyi, said “To be honest, I was not expecting them to make the world cup. We do not have enough quality players. Probably Iheanacho and a few others. Nigerian players are not on the same level as their predecessors and cannot deliver. I will be supporting France and our African Brothers, Senegal.
Another football enthusiast, Engineer Fawaz Bandiru, said “It is very sad especially in view of the fact a generation of players are missing out, and may never get the opportunity again. Looking at the brilliant form of Victor Osimhen and Alex Iwobi, this would have been the best stage for them to showcase themselves and bring smiles to the nation. I will be supporting Senegal.
Similarly, Eunice Agbama, a chef based in Nyanya, said she is rooting for the most successful team in the history of the FIFA World Cup, Brazil.
“I have always loved watching Brazil play and seeing the growth of their players making waves across the different leagues. Even if the Super Eagles were playing, I am not sure I will devote enough time to watch them because I doubt if they would have gone far.
So, as they are absent, my support will be for Brazil. I want to watch Neymar play. I have missed watching him play. They also have one of the best defensive players in person of Casemiro and a fantastic player like Antony whose work rate is excellent,” she said.