On Wednesday, February 7. the Nigeria Football Federation [NFF] and its kitting partner, Nike, unveiled the jersey the Super Eagles would adorn in Russia in June.
And just last week, the NFF revealed that Nike had orders to deliver three million of these new offerings before the World Cup kicks off on June 14. If that number is to be believed, then the NFF and Nike already have a winner on their hands.
Looking at the flip side, is it a coincidence that the best Super Eagles team have been the one [supposedly] with the best jersey since Nigeria qualified for its first World Cup in 1994?
And also the worst performance of the team at any of their past five appearances at the Mundial has mysteriously coincided with the worst set of jerseys for the team.
Is there then a correlation between kit quality and team performance?
After a Nigerian journalist, Andrew Randa, revealed some designs he thought would be great for the Eagles last year, Nike was under intense pressure to come up with bespoke designs that would not just be one of Nike’s off-the-shelf designs but one created originally for the Super Eagles.
Whilst many on various social media platforms were ecstatic about the new designs, some wondered what part of the Nigerian flag is represented in the offerings.
The Daily Mirror ranked the 19 earliest jerseys released for the FIFA 2018 World Cup and surprisingly, Nigeria’s asymmetrical design came out tops.
This was against others from England, Russia, France, Portugal, Switzerland, Sweden, Mexico, Uruguay, Argentina, Egypt, Croatia, Brazil, Germany, Peru, Spain, Japan, Belgium, and Colombia.
The conclusion was, “And while you’re there, pick up this glorious effort from Nigeria that comes out as a deserving No. 1.
“It’s incredible, frankly, and is bound to turn us all into Super Eagles in the summer.” Out of the 19 kits revealed, Nike was responsible for six – Nigeria, England, Brazil, Croatia, Portugal, and France.
Nigeria and World Cup jerseys
In 1994, the team led by Stephen Keshi came out in Adidas kits unveiled at the Nations Cup, which the Eagles won. Many Nigerians adjudged that particular jersey as the best because it had no predecessor and the design has not been seen since. The Eagles then dazzled just as their jerseys were dazzling.
In 1998, it was a muted effort by Nike as the Eagles again qualified for the second round before been roundly beaten by Denmark.
In 2002 in the South Korea/Japan World Cup, the Eagles were a pale shadow of themselves and that was appropriately reflected in the Nike kit that was supposedly electric green but was, in fact, green, washed so thin you did not know what to call it. That team in the five appearances at the Mundial is the worst till date. They scored just one goal in their three matches and came last in their group.
In 2010, the Eagles returned to the World Cup in simple Adidas jerseys and their displays were that – simple. In a group comprising Argentina, Greece and South Korea, the Eagles could not get out of their group, as Sani Kaita became the first Super Eagles’ player to be shown a straight red card at the tournament.
Keshi led the Super Eagles to the 2014 tournament in Brazil and there was some enthusiasm about the Adidas jerseys they sported. And just as the enthusiasm was, the team got to the second round to be eliminated by France.
Ahead of the 2018 Mundial
One of the closest people to the team, Tunde Adelakun, wrote on Twitter that the Eagles have to match the jersey quality, which has been rated highly.
“@thenff @NGSuperEagles new World Cup kit has been ranked as number one in the power rankings of the 19 kits revealed so far. Impressive. Now we need to match it with results on the pitch.”
But another football commentator believes it looks like something for kids.
“I do not like it. Looks razz with too many things and colours on it. In fact, it looks like something for kids.”
Adeyemi Adesanya, who talks sports on Radio, took us back to 2012 saying Nike always uses colours that are not Nigeria’s.
“These are not our colours. Why does Nike always do this? They did the same in 2002 with their lemon green.
“Now that 2nd jersey looks like ‘Okrika’ [not well made] version of the ’95 Jersey. The 1st one is dark green; but what do I know; we have imbeciles at the helm who know nothing about branding.”
While Dumnodi Okonta of Channels TV said, “Well, I have my reservations because of the Lemon colour.”
Whatever your reaction to these new jerseys – will it preclude the fact that the Eagles will be as good as these new Nike offerings in Russia? Let us know what you think!