The FIFA World Cup Trophy arrived in Nigeria on Wednesday, March 7, 2018, for a four-day viewing experience in the cities of Abuja and Lagos.
The shiny gold trophy could not have come at a better time as this week marked a hundred days count down to the start of the Russia 2018 on June 14.
While the trophy will be seen by thousands of Nigerians during this tour, it is an opportunity for many fans to behold at close range the diadem that causes all the frenzy every four years.
The FIFA World Cup Trophy is the culmination of achievement, the reward for hard work and team play and is only achievable every four years.
For the duration of the World Cup, everything seems to stop in countries that qualify and those that do not as news about the games take centre stage. Football news takes a leap from the back pages into the front pages and into boardrooms and Senate halls.
Everyone wants to talk about the joyous success of their national teams or the painful agony of defeat that is communally shared across the land. The opportunity to talk about the result of the World Cup matches is a form of therapy for many.
The arrival of the FIFA World Cup Trophy in Abuja on Wednesday coincided with the release of the 28 invited players for Nigeria’s pair of international friendly matches against Poland and Serbia on March 23 and 27.
While Gernot Rohr’s list contains the main actors from the qualifying run in 2017, a few new players have been invited.
Joel Obi of Torino and Junior Ajayi of Al Ahly, as well as Gabriel Okechukwu of Akwa United, got their first invitation to play under the German. Obi’s form and history of injuries are well publicised.
The midfielder now has an opportunity to show what he is capable of, the promise he showed when he won his first cap under Samson Siasia at the Teslim Balogun Stadium years ago. That night his name rang through the stands as he dazzled in a friendly against Sierra Leone.
For Ajayi, the promise of international stardom was halted by his injury at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. However, his move to Egyptian giants Ahly has been worthwhile where he helped them reach the final of the CAF Champions League last year. His feat in the Egyptian league has not gone unnoticed and this call-up is just rewarding for his good form.
The two games in March will bring Rohr closer to his final squad selection for the World Cup. He knows more than 90 percent of his squad and will be looking for extra toppings.
One expects to see two good encounters that will see what plans the trainer has for the World Cup. The last friendly against Argentina exposed the defence against world-class opposition, now we hope to see some of those lapses corrected.
With the World Cup trophy on public viewing in our country this week, we are allowed to dream about its return in July. But first, we must get our team in the best shape to stand a chance of making those dreams come true because, with the World Cup, everyone is allowed to dream.Keep up with Lolade Adewuyi's coverage of the 2018 FIFA World Cup for FCNaija.com by following him on Twitter: @Jololade