ÛCLEMENT NWANKPA JR,
Courtesy: Nigeria Football Support Platform
I knew this moment will come but didn’t know it will come this soon. Frankly, I didn’t know it will be against South Africa. But the way this team was structured under Gernot Rohr, I always noted one shortcoming (I didn’t see many) “…the Experience Quotient” which is glaringly low.
It’s a very young team and you always sense a need to inject some experience. For this reason, I have always defended the inclusion of Mikel Obi even when he wasn’t making Chelsea’s bench.
I clamoured for Vincent Enyeama’s return; defended Ahmed Musa’s relevance despite limited outings at Leicester and explained away Victor Moses’ perceived ‘truancy’. The ingredient they bring to that team is priceless.
The fact remains that the Super Eagles is in dire need of some sprinkle of experience, anyhow. There are a lot of young talented players in there but the requisite experience that provides guidance is in short supply.
In international football, there must be commensurate blend of youth and experience to make success assured. Inexperienced teams don’t win major titles. Youth takes you to a point and experience takes you further.
You need the mobility of youth as much as guidance and direction of experience. We have been carried away by the abundance of young players available to Rohr but we failed to take note of the erosion of experience in the team.
Nobody is angling for an elders’ council in the form of a national team but you need players who had seen it all and done it all to take you through difficult times.
I had expected this rude awakening in the forthcoming World Cup fixtures against Cameroon and Algeria, if the needful wasn’t done, but I did not expect it to come so soon especially against South Africa.
We all expected it to be business as usual against South Africa. But today, youth ran dry and the experience that should oil the engine was not enough.
The kids got to their limit but the grey hairs that should take them further were lacking.
Result: No direction, no guidance at the middle of a battle where the opposition had taken full control. They needed some battle-tested ‘Generals’ to proffer alternative routes from the blockade mounted by the opposition.
But the ‘Generals’ had either been retired or are not fit for battle. Of course, there was a limit to what a fasting Ahmed Musa could have done when he was introduced.
Now pause and ponder: Couldn’t Algeria have done the same if Mikel Obi and Victor Moses were not on the pitch that day?
Was that doomsday postponed? Hmm…This Daniel Akpeyi ‘sef…’ Given the fact that the defence is this team’s weakest link; wouldn’t an Enyeama provide more security?
Can you imagine the scenario when we visit Algeria and Cameroon with the obvious shortcoming between the sticks? Even if we make it to the World Cup, where the competition is tougher, are we not safer with Vincent Enyeama?
Without the proper blend of experience, this team will have many of such moments, particularly at the biggest stage. Good that it happened now.
The AFCON ticket hasn’t slipped away and we are still in World Cup driver’s seat. Let us plug the loopholes. Let’s make necessary injections to equip this team for tougher times.
Let’s accord our heroes more respect… Let’s reduce the rate at which we force our internationals into premature retirement.
Sometimes, they are still doing it out there while the national team is in dire need of their services.
What the old man sees sitting, the youth won’t see even from a tree top