The three-time African champions will not be in Qatar, but the current crop of Super Eagles stars deserve to play in the biggest sporting competition in the world.
The Super Eagles will not be at the Qatar 2022 World Cup
With less than 15 days before the start of the Qatar 2022 World Cup, it is starting to hit home that Nigeria will not be a part of the party.
The Super Eagles will miss out on the competition not because they lost but because they could not get the win in the playoff match against their West African rivals Ghana.
Having played out a goalless draw in the first leg in Kumasi, the three-time African champions needed an outright victory in the second leg in Abuja to book their spot in Qatar.
However, Nigeria could only manage a 1-1 draw in the reverse leg, meaning the Black Stars progressed on away goals rule at the expense of Nigeria.
Since the Super Eagles made their first appearance at the World Cup in 1994, this will be the second time the team will fail to qualify for the biggest sporting event on earth.
Before this year, Nigeria had only missed one of the last seven World Cups in 2006. However, while the memory of missing out in 2006 is still fresh, this one is more painful and unfair to the players in the current Super Eagles squad.
The importance of the World Cup cannot be overstated, as it is every player’s dream to represent their country on the biggest stage in the world.
Aside from that, the World Cup also does a lot for a player’s profile, especially the ones whose quality is not known by the average football fan. It could also be a platform for a player to get a big move to a bigger club- an example is James Rodriguez, who joined Real Madrid from FC Porto after his exploits at the 2014 World Cup.
However, while the World Cup does these and many more for a player, Super Eagles stars will not be able to take advantage this year, which is sad considering this is the best current crop of players the country has produced in recent years.
It is unfair that players like Victor Osimhen, Terem Moffi, Paul Onuachu and Ademola Lookman will not get to play in Qatar when they are in a rich vein of form.
These four players have been the Super Eagles best players this season, but the world will not get the chance to see them in Qatar.
Osimhen is currently one of the hottest strikers in the world, with eight goals in nine Italian Serie A games this season. But for all his exploits for Napoli, he will not be able to show it on the world stage, which is unfair to him.
A talent like Osimhen deserves to play at the World Cup, but Nigeria’s failure to qualify means we will not get the chance to see him until 2026 if the Super Eagles qualify.
Osimhen has been unlucky with the Super Eagles at major international tournaments. He missed the 2018 World Cup and played only 45 minutes of football at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
This year, the former Lille man missed out on the AFCON due to a facial injury. The World Cup would have been the perfect opportunity for him to represent Nigeria at a major tournament fully.
Osimhen is not the only one unlucky to miss out. Lookman is also having his best season yet with Atalanta, but he will not get to play at the World Cup.
The former Leicester City man has scored six goals in 13 league games for La Dea after joining them from RB Leipzig in the summer. But despite his brilliant form, he will have to wait before representing Nigeria at a major tournament.
Ironically, Lookman only made his debut for Nigeria in the playoff game against Ghana, having represented England at the youth level.
With the situation, he would be wondering if he made the right choice by switching international allegiance from England to Nigeria, although he would have found it hard to get into the Three Lions squad.
Moffi and Onuachu are other players having a good year at their clubs but will not get to play at the World Cup. Moffi has nine league goals for Lorient in the French Ligue 1, while Onuachi has 12 for Genk in the Belgian Jupiler League.
Players like Joe Aribo, Ola Aina and Moses Simon would also have been relishing the prospect of playing in the biggest sporting competition in the world.
Although critics may argue that some of these players were involved when Nigeria played Ghana, it is still sad to see them miss out when they are in good form.
Interestingly, Nigeria would have had a better chance if they had qualified, as they would have been in pot three based on the FIFA rankings.
However, football does not work that way, which means the players and the team will have to watch the games on TV and wait for another four years.
But here is another thing about football, nothing is guaranteed, which means this could be the only chance for some of these players to play at the World Cup.
And that is sad because the chance is gone, meaning they will not get to play on the biggest stage.