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Why Fans Are Satisfied with Super Eagles Performance At 2018 FIFA World Cup

- A Documentary By Benson Chukwueke - A Sports Marketing Consultant and CEO, GreenHunters Sports International 

Nigeria national football team, Super Eagles, didn't in any way meet their target of reaching the Semi finals of the just concluded Russia 2018 Fifa World Cup. In fact, they only played the three mandatory group games and was knocked out. They only needed a draw against a lackluster Argentine team but couldn't weather the storm.

Surprisingly, heads didn't roll as usual. Nobody is calling the players names, nobody is asking the coach to resign neither are they saying NFF officials squandered money on extacodes.

The reactions were different: "we were robbed of penalty against Argentina," "the team tried their best," "it's a young team that need time to mature, so we should keep the boys together for future competitions..."  That means fans seemed satisfied!

This is why the plot to remove Amaju Pinnick as NFF President didn't get public endorsement and therefore could not hold water as expected.

Usually, after the world cup,  come a time for change, time to go back to the drawing board. The plotters wanted to cash-in on Super Eagles poor performance at World Cup to sack the incumbent officials even before NFF general elections. But the song fans are singing this time around were different. They want NFF officials and Super Eagles coaches to continue doing what they are doing now and possibly improve on it for African cup of nations (AFCON 2019) and the next world cup 2022.

Why Are Fans So Satisfied with Super Eagles Performance?
Nigeria coming from a bad state, didn't qualify for two consecutive AFCON 2015 and 2017 finals...and the team was left almost in disarray by Sunday Oliseh, who resigned as the national team head coach on personal reasons. Then, the German tactician, Gernot Rohr, came on board and changed everything.

Using a largely average team with low Fifa ranking to execute what I might call a 'five star performance', greatly delighted the fans and almost gave Nigerians false hope that Super Eagles could win the World cup in Russia.

Nigeria was ranked lower than Algeria, Cameroon and Zambia before the African qualifiers, but Nigeria went on to qualify for the world cup with a match to spare and didn't even loose a game.

This was largely attributed to NFF perfect planning and execution strategy. They provided almost all the team needed: settled invited players' flight tickets and match bonuses; that attracted a lot of players of Nigeria descends to opt to play for Nigeria.

Rohr and his coaching crew neatly executed the screening processes and selected what you might call the best Nigeria have now. This transparency created a great team spirit in the national camp, something fans had never seen before.

Super Eagles success during qualifications and even winning Argentina in an international friendly match drew a large fans follower-ship and loyalty. Consequently, inspired a lot of corporate brands association and sponsorship of Super Eagles' world cup quest.

Brands' Success with the Sponsorship of Super Eagles World Cup Quest
Nike was able to capture the new feeling and enegry in the team and among Nigerian fans in the design of Super Eagles Jersey, which turn out to be one of the best-selling kits in the tournament. Nike sold over 50 million of the Jersey during the world cup and is still selling hot now; not counting those sold in the parallel market.

What Pepsi translated as "Naija Spirit" in their world cup advert, which drove 7up bottling company to sell over 70 million cretes of Pepsi drink in Nigeria (June and July).

World Cup Performance
It was something to cherish, Nigeria ranked lower than Iceland, Croatia and Argentina, but put up a memorable fight that nearly nicked the team qualification from the group, but for the Referee's decision to deny Nigeria from a clear hand ball by Rojo at the penalty box.

Ahmed Musa heroic two unreplied goals against Iceland was yet another delight for Nigerian fans. In all, it was gallant performances even though Super Eagles were knock out at the group stage, the team were seen by fans as having played so well and measured up at the world level.

The Lesson for the Future
Fans support and loyalty doesn't come by winning alone. Other factors such as good organization and delibrately building of team spirit and positive media communications.

NFF planning and implementations largely contributed to all these. Choosing the right coach may be by providence, but NFF support of the team was remarkable in preparation (5 international friendly games) and playing at the mundial (No bonus roar nor squabbling among players).

Another remarkable thing is how NFF maintained positive communication with the media, which attracted large fans follower-ship... how they mobilized funds from corporate bodies to suport the team. For me, it is all about NFF standing up to their responsibilities and something we should emulate and inprove on in the future.

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