Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to highlight the challenges of Nigerian Professional Football League teams at the club level, with a view to aligning this with developments at the country level, and especially so in the aftermath of the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil – an international event – where Nigeria participated alongside four others – Algeria, Cameroon, Ghana and Ivory Coast.
Design/methodology/approach – The meta-analysis adopts a qualitative research approach, drawing upon a review of secondary data sources and the observation technique.
Findings – Although Nigeria’s first team players ply their trade in Europe, there remains a challenge epitomised by the “disconnect” between the domestic league and the national team composition. As a consequence, brand ambassadors are proposed as one of the key conduits for re-aligning the identified disconnect.
Research limitations/implications – The dual focus on club level and a single country – albeit in the light of Nigeria, former African champions, poses a limitation as the domestic league in that country may not be representative of others across the continent. However, some insight is also derived from developments in another African football giant – i.e. Ghana, runners-up of the recently concluded 2015 African Nations Cup.
Practical implications – In the long history of the FIFA Football World Cup, only three African teams have ever reached the quarter-finals – notably Cameroon in 1990, Senegal in 2002 and Ghana in 2010. Although the Super Eagles relished the label of African Champions going in the World Cup finals, they remain incapacitated, having failed to “fly” into the round of 16 since their 1994 debut. Furthermore, the alignment at the micro or club level to the meso or country level remains to be investigated at both scholarly and policy levels.
Social implications – There are success stories on the management and development of football in Africa and as the case of Nigeria demonstrates, Stephen Keshi, the national coach, symbolises missed opportunities – i.e. brand ambassadors – to increase visibility and engagement with the domestic league.
Originality/value – This is one of the very few studies that have sought to highlight the misalignment between club and country within the research context of Africa. It is also one of the few papers that have called on the need for brand ambassadors as a means of bridging the gap in this area.