The Super Eagles is arguably Africa’s senior national team with the most prolific striking powerhouse with a licky goalpost and a shaky backline.
In 2023, Nigeria’s Victor Osimhen broke a long standing jinx when he won the African Player of the Year for the first time after a long absence from the continent’s most clamorous awards. He also helped Napoli win their third Serie A title and the first since 1990.
However, the Super Eagles as a team appear unattractive on the pitch with performances that have called to question the quality of players invited into the national team over the years.
But, with about seven days until the TotalEnergies African Cup of Nations (AFCON) Côte d’Ivoire 2023, football fans in the country are concerned about the team’s chances of making it out of Group A.
A group that consists of the host nation Ivory Coast, Equatorial Guinea, and Guinea-Bissau, which analysts believe will test the Super Eagles’ championship mentality in this year’s AFCON.
Accordingly, getting out of the group will challenge Jose Peseiro’s ability as a tactician when the Super Eagles go up against their West African neighbours and well known opponents.
“With few days until the beginning of the AFCON tournament, Africa’s most prestigious football event. It is a shame that we are not seeing brands jostling for sponsorship and promotion of the Super Eagles like we used to see,” Segun Solanke, president, Provazios Sports, told BusinessDay.
According to him, the Super Eagles have failed to fly in their past outings recently, and that the team’s preparation towards the 2023 AFCON have been marred by uncertainty surrounding the team’s selection and outstanding payments which are long overdue. “Brands will generally shy away from such teams,” he said.
Solanke added that there is a need for the sports ministry to put its house in order and build a team that is ready to fly again, and worthy enough for brands to jostle after.
“Most importantly the NFF needs to be very transparent and accountable with funds given to them and they will also have to start inviting players on merit to the national team who are ready to give their all devoid of any sentiment,” he said.
Henry Okonkwo, a Lagos based sports analyst, told BusinessDay that the present Super Eagles squad do not command respect whenever the team is playing across Africa. “Where is the fear factor that used to characterise playing against Nigeria’s Super Eagles? If a team like Guinea Bissau can beat Nigeria here,” he asked.
Speaking further he disclosed that despite their successes, the Super Eagles have faced challenges, particularly in finding consistent playmakers and a good cover for the back four. Accordingly, he said that the likes of Joe Aribo, Alex Iwobi, and Kelechi Iheanacho have shown promise but lack the consistency displayed by the likes of Austin Okocha and Mikel Obi in the midfield.
“Today, many of us are complaining that we will not be able to watch the AFCON on TV; but if the team has been attractive, the TV stations will have enough sponsors to broadcast the matches to our homes.
“With about a week to the 2023 AFCON, Nigerians still don’t know how or where to watch the tournaments – it shows companies are not showing the needed interest in the Super Eagles,” Okonkwo said.
Omotoyosi Ajayi, principal consultant and founder, Stage Africa Media and Advisory, while speaking to BusinessDay on what clients look out for before engaging in brand sponsorships, said that brands are interested in a sizable, engaged audience that aligns with their target market.
“Clients scrutinize various aspects before committing to brand sponsorships. They assess brand alignment to ensure their values and ethos harmonize. Audience demographics and reach play a pivotal role,” she said.
According to Ajayi, transparency in communication, including clear objectives and expected outcomes, fosters trust. She explained that clients evaluate the potential for mutual benefit, seeking symbiotic relationships that offer value exchange beyond monetary transactions.
“Reputation scrutiny is paramount; they evaluate a brand’s public image, looking for consistency, authenticity, and positive associations. Track record and past collaborations hold weight—successful partnerships and a brand’s ability to deliver results matter,” Ajayi said.
In other words, the Super Eagles have not been to offer the value exchange as an entity to brands that have identified with the team in the recent past neither as the Super Eagles gain the support of football fans in the country.