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New champions of Africa: How can Nigeria follow the footstep of Senegal?

After just adding a new trophy to their collection on Saturday, the Senegalese have taken control of the African football scene by establishing themselves as the continent’s new champions.

Senegal won the Africa Cup of Nations at the senior level, at the Under-20 level, at the Chan, and is now leading in the Under-17 event in Algeria owing to meticulous preparation.

Nigeria, formerly the titans of Africa in these competitions, are now like a lion without fangs, unable to attack its adversaries. As a result, the national squad of the nation has declined to give Nigerian football supporters a cause to shout about.

The Super Eagles of Nigeria were eliminated from the 2021 AFCON tournament by Tunisia in the male division, Gambia hindered Ladan Bosso’s u-20 team’s chances of reaching the final, and the Golden Eaglets were eliminated from their campaign in the quarterfinals by Burkina Faso, who proved to be the superior team.

Has Nigeria finally fallen out of respect on the continent?

Following their defeat to Guinea-Bissau in the first match, Nigeria’s Super Eagles are currently rated 40th in the world, down from their prior position of 35th that was announced in December.

Nigeria was the fifth-ranked team in the continent, behind African champions Senegal, Tunisia, and Cameroon, who proceeded to the FIFA World Cup semifinals. But in the most current standings, Egypt has overcome Nigeria and risen to the fifth spot.

The seven-time AFCON champion Flying Eagles have also not won since 2015, failing to qualify for the competition in 2017 and 2021, finishing in fourth place in 2019, and winning the bronze medal in 2023.

The Golden Eaglets of Nigeria, who won back-to-back World Cup titles in 2013 and 2015, are in a similar situation. They have refused to find their position on the international arena since their previous triumph, and they will not be competing in the same competition this year.

This information alone leads to the conclusion that the Nigerian football system has failed and, if certain actions are not taken, may continue to fail football supporters on a continental and international level.

What can Nigeria do to emulate Senegal’s success?

The Senegalese are reaping the benefits of their diligent preparation to make sure they stand out on a continental and international scale. The nation has spent time improving playing fields, infrastructure, and coach education.

The Senegalese Football Federation, however, is said to have recruited outstanding and intelligent executives to advance their objectives above ego and nepotism. In addition to this, the nation has made it a practise to hire a local coach who is familiar with how the players bond with one another.

However, if implemented, these simple suggestions will place Nigeria in a favourable position, or at the very least, on the path to long-term success.

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