Exclusive: Super Eagles Media Officer Says ‘Nigeria Factor’ Sparked 2023 AFCON Success, Makes Other Revelations

Exclusive: Super Eagles Media Officer Says ‘Nigeria Factor’ Sparked 2023 AFCON Success, Makes Other Revelations

The media officer of the Super  Eagles of Nigeria, Babafemi Raji has noted that the presence of the team in the just concluded 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) contributed to bringing the attention of the world to the tournament in Ivory Coast.

Business Insider claimed that Nigeria has the most addicted internet users in Africa, with the average user spending 3 hours and 42 minutes on social networks every day and social media was the primary engine that was used to attract the attention of the world to the 2023 AFCON even before it started in Ivory Coast on January 13.

When the tournament ended on February 11, 2024, with the host, Ivory Coast, beating Nigeria 2-1 in the final, analysts concluded that the 2023 AFCON was the biggest edition of the tournament based on global media coverage and fan followership.

The fact that the 2023 AFCON took place at the peak of the 2023-2024 Premier League campaign and also coincident with the 2024 Asian Championships, made many criticize the Confederation of African Football (CAF) for allowing the tournament to take place in the winter of 2024 instead of last summer, which was the earlier scheduled period for the tournament.

But when the tournament started in Ivory Coast on January 13, football enthusiasts across the world created time to follow it judiciously like major leagues across the world, especially in Europe, were not ongoing.

The president of CAF, Patrick Motsepe, claimed that about 2 billion people followed the 2023 AFCON which was an unprecedented figure in the history of the tournament.

This is barely debatable since the tournament was aired in over 180 countries across the world by powerful media outlets like Sky, Canal+, beIN Sport, BBC, and MultiChoice.

Note that 6,000 journalists applied for media accreditation ahead of the 2023 AFCON, which is two times the number of journalists that covered the last edition of the tournament. In the same vein, the 2023 AFCON was transmitted by 45 Free To Air broadcasters which further took the games to the grass-roots.

In an interview with Naloaded News, the Media Officer of the Super Eagles stressed that the presence of the Super Eagles of Nigeria throughout the 2023 AFCON helped to ignite the overwhelming attention the tournament generated.

“I am sure CAF can attest to it that it was a tournament with the biggest coverage ever”, Babafemi Raji told Naloaded News in an exclusive interview.

For crying out loud the Premier League was on at that moment, the Asian Championship was on at that moment but the attention was on Africa, the attention was on the Cup Of Nations and everyone was happy.

“And whether we like it or not you won’t take away the Nigerian factor. Nigerians were there, the Super Eagles were there, and the Nigerian media were very active, supportive, and cooperative. We had the media guys on the ground. They were really massive.

CAF should be thinking of getting a lot of Nigerian media guys on board because it really helped in their dedication to their sponsors and every other person that was associated with the Cup of Nations.”

The Super Eagles is a big brand!

The Super Eagles are one of the most successful national sides in Africa and one of the most famous in the world thanks to the country’s history in the game, the caliber of world-class players the country has produced, and the Eagles’ jerseys which have always been most fans’ favourite.

According to the Super Eagles media officer, the Nigeria national team proved before, during, and after the 2023 AFCON that they are a very marketable brand in the game.

Recall that ahead of the 2023 AFCON, the Nigeria Football Federation led by Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau launched the “Let’s Do It Again” campaign, which was a mantra to push the Super Eagles to win the 2023 AFCON, for the first time since they won the 2013 edition of the tournament in South Africa.

Babafemi Raji revealed that before, during, and after the 2023 AFCON, every social media post the Super Eagles’ social media pages made about the tournament generated an unprecedented 80 million impressions which goes to show how viable the national team brand is.

I believe the whole buzz around the Cup of Nations should make the cooperate sector, even in Nigeria, also know that they should key into the Super Eagles brand”, the media officer told Naloaded News.

They should not wait for any tournament at all before they start keying into the brand, the Super Eagles brand, because the NFF under the leadership of Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau has been working very hard to rebrand football in Nigeria and they could see the way it went during the Cup Of Nations.

“What do we expect from the cooperate sectors? Come on board, You’ll always get the reward. The ‘Let’s Do It Again’ campaign alone from October till when the AFCON ended on February 11 had 80 million impressions digitally.

What other thing does any brand need? We can account for the numbers so it means the Super Eagle remains a very profitable brand. It’s a brand you should associate with because the players are all disciplined. You’ll never find anything shady in the team or among the players. So you can always associate with the team.”

Secrets of Super Eagles’ Success at 2023 AFCON

The Super Eagles were never given a chance by most Nigerian football enthusiasts ahead of the 2023 AFCON due to their poor form in the games they played before the tournament.

To make matters worse for the Eagles, they suffered an unexpected 1-1 draw with a lowly-rated Equatorial Guinea in their opening group-stage game.

But the Nigerian side were able to organize themselves well enough to defeat the hosts, Ivory Coast, 1-0 in their second group stage game. They also went on to beat Guinea-Bissau in their last group-stage game.

The performance helped them to finish second in Group A, on the same points as first-placed Equatorial Guinea who had a superior goal difference.

The Super Eagles went on to lose in the final of the tournament against the hosts, Ivory Coast, as they finished second at the tournament after recording 6 games unbeaten run.

In an interview with Naija News, Babafemi Raji said the secret to the Super Eagles’ successful run to the final of the 2023 AFCON was the team’s togetherness, and the team’s determination not to pay attention to negative speculations.

Raji said, “What I learned about the team was that there was a lot of unity. The team was very united and we’ve all been united but we noticed the power of heightened synergy and it truly worked for us.

“We acted as a close unit. We didn’t listen to what was coming from outside no matter what, especially stories, or anything that tried to distract us. In fact, whenever we hear gossip or gists we will just discuss it in camp and laugh over (them)…

There was love, there has always been love but going into that competition, it was heightened, we were all braced up for it.

“We all learnt that the first rule is always to be ready to help the next person. So no matter the circumstance, we were so united that we were ready to listen to whatever the next person had to say.

“That really helped us in the cause of the tournament, you can’t doubt the confidence level of the players. They are all playing for top teams. Even the officials are all top-notch professionals in their fields, from the team doctors to the team chief security officers to the media officer, the psychologists, and the coaches. Everybody worked hard to make sure we got to that level.

Well, we didn’t win the trophy but trust me, playing in the final was a major one for the entire team and it really shows that once we continue with that tempo going to the next AFCON (in Morocco in 2025), it will be massive.”

The Super Eagles media officer concluded by urging the team’s supporters to keep supporting the Nigerian side by channeling their unconditional love, and positive energy toward the Eagles at all times. “So supporter-ship must be hundred percent, must be absolute”, he added.

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