Each World Cup year it has become chic for the media to claim that Nigeria has been drawn in a Group of Death. Of course, for Nigerians, it is a badge of honour to make the claim. After all, we are just as good as any one else never mind that we are 41 in the world and never mind that we were in Pot 4. We just have to feel good about ourselves.
To be honest, it also makes me feel good and it does not matter who else is in our group, whether it is a Group of Death or not, I am always optimistic that we would qualify. It is a complex that blinds us in evaluation of World Cup groups after each draw.
But for one second, I ask that we ditch that mentality and look at those draws from an objective eye if there is ever such a thing. I suppose that if there is, then one good measure could be the FIFA rankings, no matter how much we despise it.
Believe me, I despise FIFA ranking because I always feel Nigeria should be among the World’s best ten teams. Do not ask me to justify that claim because I won’t. Just take it that I am a Nigerian and trust my feelings on that. Laugh. That is all I ask.
In any case, FIFA ranking is what was used to determine which pot a team had to be in. It happened that Nigeria did not rank so highly and, thus, we ended up in Pot 4, the very bottom of all pots. But that is FIFA’s decision and I will respect it.
To evaluate whether, indeed, we are drawn in the Group of Death, I wanted to test such a claim by calculating the average rankings of each group. Guess what? Suddenly, the tag Group of Death disappears for Nigeria’s group. In fact, it so happens that our group is just the third toughest group of the 8 groups.
Our group has an average ranking of 21.00. That still signifies that our group is tough. But surely it isn’t as tough as Group E that averaged 18.25 and includes Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica and Serbia. Of course, if Nigeria was in that group instead of Serbia we would have screamed Group of Death!
Well, Group E has two teams that reached the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup and three that were in the final 16 of that competition! Then Group C also averaged 19.75 ranking! It has France, Peru, Denmark, and Australia.
Our group has Argentina that struggled to qualify but we also have Iceland and Croatia. But I really wish we were in Group A! That Group is by far the weakest if we take the average ranking which is a whopping 43.75! Kai, even our ranking of 41 in October is better than that average ranking.
By the way, is it just luck that the two lowest ranked teams at this World Cup are both in the same Group A? I am not starting any conspiracy claims but just batting an eyelid!
Hey, the Group of Death is not D. If it exists in this World Cup it has to be found elsewhere. Ultimately, the draw seemed quite fair except for the aberrant Group A.
Average FIFA Rankings of All Groups
|A||Russia, Uruguay, Egypt, Saudi Arabia||43.75|
|B||Portugal, Spain, Iran, Morocco||23.25|
|C||France, Peru, Denmark, Australia||19.75|
|D||Argentina, Croatia, Iceland, Nigeria||21.00|
|E||Brazil, Switzerland, Costa Rica, Serbia||18.25|
|F||Germany, Mexico, Sweden, South Korea||26.00|
|G||Belgium, England, Tunisia, Panama||23.50|
|H||Poland, Colombia, Senegal, Japan||23.75|