By Jide Alaka, Semiu Osho, Olusola Babarinsa and Bolade Oladoye:

With 70 days to the beginning of the World Cup, the Eagles have fallen to 22 after being

ranked 21 in the last ranking. World Cup opponents, Argentina did not

move from their 9th ranking even after defeating Germany in a friendly

last month while Greece fell a slot but are still 11 places better than

the Eagles. South Korea remain on the 49th position.

Ranking is all theory

Ajibade Babalade, a former Super Eagles defender believes the rankings are theoretical: “It

doesn’t matter what the ranking is now. During the period in review we

did not play any match. Let us wait until April when we play the

Colombians, and see how it will reflect on us then. We should not

forget that the FIFA ranking is just a measurement on paper, the game

is played on the pitch within 90 minutes.

“Just like Argentina is ranked above us, it is not just today, even when we were

No. 5 in the world in 1994, I am sure they must have ranked above us,

and Greece is a former European champion which am sure is still rubbing

off. But all these are theoretical we should just prepare very well to

play them at South Africa. While Argentina might turn out to be a tough

nut, I think we should be able to take on Greece, and not overlook the

Koreans.”

According to Nduka Ugbade, a defender in the famed 1994 Eagles squad, “The Super Eagles

should put the FIFA ranking aside and concentrate on their World Cup

preparation. “Well, it’s all about the quality of friendly games you play during the international

free days and we could all remember that we just managed to make a late

arrangement for our Team B to play Congo DR. Though we won the game, we

all know the quality of the opposition and normally you don’t really

expect that game to help us move up in the FIFA ranking.”

Concentrate on South Africa “We can’t do anything about that now and we should just forget about it and

concentrate on our preparation for the World Cup. Regardless of our

ranking, that may not necessarily determine how we are going to perform

but we can only use the ranking as an indicator that could give us some

hints about how our opponents are performing. We need to prepare well

if we are to do well at the world Cup. That is the most important

thing. There are criteria set for the rankings and Nigeria might not

have fulfilled these,” says Rabiu Yusuf, Zamfara United coach.

“I believe there are criteria used by FIFA in the rankings, so the

ranking is mainly a reflection of how well the country has fulfilled

those criteria. For instance, a lower ranked country is likely to jump

upward on the FIFA ranking table if they play and defeat a higher

ranked country. “To me, the ranking is just a guide aimed at making

each country do better. Nigeria’s fall to 22 does not mean the country

does not have the talents or the players to execute international

matches. Greece and Argentina leading Nigeria doesn’t mean we can’t

beat them even today. All we got to do is assemble our talents and with

the right technical crew, the best will come out of them. FIFA’s

ranking shouldn’t be our headache now. Bringing the best of out of the

Super Eagles should. The proof of the current ranking will be put to

practical test when the World Cup kicks off in South Africa come June

11, then all theory must be set aside.”

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