x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

In victory and defeat Nigeria are a joy to watch

The Nigerian national football team, known to many as the "Super Eagles", are one of the best teams in the world.

Sunday Oliseh's goal settled the deal with Spain.
Sunday Oliseh's goal settled the deal with Spain.

The Nigerian national football team, known to many as the "Super Eagles", are one of the best teams in the world. I have always loved to watch them play. And I can confidently say that they play total football - the sort that would make Rinus Michels proud if he were alive - even though on most occasions they end up losing in the quarter- finals or the semi-finals of major tournaments. Having said that, they won the gold medal at the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996, a major achievement by any standards.

It is also a treat to watch them come back from the brink of losing a game. It is a joy to see them get their act together when they are a goal down with little hope left of a draw or a win. It goes to show the kind of team spirit many teams would kill to have. Like lots of teams, the Super Eagles too have a band that travel with them all over the globe. They may be a colourful lot, but they are also an organised and professional lot. I have often their perceptive members read the situation on the field and play their music in accordance with that. Sometimes they even up to the ante to inspire the players when the game gets sluggish.

My most memorable game involving the Super Eagles is the one against Spain in "France 98", in which Sunday Oliseh scored a long-range scorcher to make the final score 3-2. But my favourite player has to be the colourful JJ Okocha. He may have retired a while ago, but it is his unique style that has won this African team plenty of loyal fans, whether you are Nigerian or not.