…Champions African Unity.
Everybody likes to associate with a winning football team. That is where the bragging rights is not checked. The victory of the Super Eagles electrified Nigeria. Those who have been asking if winning the 2018 World Cup ticket is enough to prove Nigeria is ready for Russia finally got their answer. A brilliant yes!
No doubt, football fans and non-football fans across the country are delighted with the Super Eagles’ latest performance against Albiceleste. Nigeria gave Argentina an unanticipated defeat, scoring four goals to counter a two-nil lead.
The same Eagles Nigerians lost hope in years back are the biggest talk in town. As Goal.com reports, “the win has left fans buzzing after the Super Eagles started their preparation for next year’s World Cup in Russia on a high.”
This newly found stardom proves that changing the football narrative in Nigeria is all a matter of time and commitment. Commitment, not just from the team players, the coach and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), but commitment from sponsors who are the major force behind the scene.
It is good to praise our fantastic squad, coach-Gernot Rohr, and President Amaju Pinnick for their tactical approach. However, Nigerians must also commend Aiteo, the energy group that signed a N2.5billion five-year sponsorship deal with NFF at a point where it was in debt and abandoned by corporate entities. It is a partnership that has conferred on Aiteo the title of Official Optimum Partner of the NFF.
Recognising that nothing compares to football in its power to create unity across the whole population, from the youngest school child to the oldest citizen, poor to rich, illiterates to intellectuals, Aiteo committed to financing football as its core act of social responsibility.
It is quite impressive that Aiteo’s investment, which was described as a ‘long–awaited injection of funds the NFF has earnestly yearned for,” is finally putting Nigerian football on an enviable spot.
With the World Cup ticket, Aiteo’s ambition to boost the performance of the Nigerian team and return the country to the position of dominance in African football has been achieved. However, with the win against Argentina, the dream is bigger: a position of dominance in global football.
Today, football in Nigeria is garnering the attention it deserves. Our global ranking has greatly improved and our grade A friendly match with Argentina is another major boost.
It is hard to imagine that in the midst of our mammoth problems, we’ve found a soft spot for our national team. Football is so magical and winning sends off the right amount of spark that blurs our differences. Just in the same country where some are clamouring for secession, we seem not to be bothered that the team that brought us victory is a mix of one Iwobi, Musa and Idowu, working together to win.
As a country irrespective of our ethnic divisions, we can identify with and we have a renewed faith in the national team.
Benedict Peters, the founder and Executive Vice Chairman of Aiteo Group, underscoring the power of football, said in an article on Huffington Post: “Nigerian cities, once too familiar with the echoes of fearful cries, resound today with the passionate cheers and gasps of suspense that can only be aroused by the beautiful game.”
Benedict Peters, who proved his chops in the oil and gas sector from his early days in Oando and MRS, before floating what is today known as Aiteo, does not make as much noise. He is however elated by the noise of resounding success from the streets. This spurred his company’s investment in football, which he has now taken beyond Nigeria to Africa.
Aiteo has taken this gospel of unity through football beyond Nigeria, with its recent commitment to sponsor Confederation of African Football (CAF) Awards. To this, Benedict Peters says: “Through the unity of our people we have created a shared identity, and nowhere is that shared identity more apparent, more celebrated and more unifying than in football.