Chiedu Ebie is a former lawyer and a substantive managing director and CEO of an exploration and production company in Delta State, Nigeria. An avid soccer fan, Chiedu Ebie supports Manchester United as well as Nigeria, his home country’s team.
Nigeria’s under-17 national soccer team has won the World Cup five times since the tournament’s start in 1985, making them the most successful team in the history of the under-17 World Cup. The 2015 tournament against Mali marked the team’s fifth win.
Though their young players have been extremely successful, the same cannot be said about Nigeria’s senior level team. Not one senior team in Africa has progressed past the quarterfinals in the World Cup. In 2014, only two African teams progressed past the group stage out of the five African teams participating.
Some have theorized that this may be due to the falsification of players’ ages on youth African teams, which was insinuated by Mexico’s under-17 coach during the 2015 tournament. Players on youth teams are also often recruited to play for European teams, who can offer young players large sums of money.
Nigeria’s lack of senior level success may also be due to the dysfunctional management of African teams as a whole. This was exemplified by Nigeria’s federation’s firing, re-hiring, and firing again of national team coach Stephen Keshi. Fans of Nigeria’s soccer teams can only hope that the success of this past year’s youth team can eventually lead to success for their senior team as well.