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Nigerian Football

Opinion: The Rude Awakening

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BY EMMANUEL NYABAM

 

Dear Mr Rohr and fellow Nigerians. This is an open letter on the Nigerian game. A lot has been said about Nigeria’s loss to South Africa last weekend.  I won’t bother you with the drama that we used South African balls to play the match.

Ha! Maybe they had ‘jazzed the balls sef?’  Sikes! If I hear!  I must commend Rohr as I am firmly one of those who did not want a foreign coach for our national team.

No doubt, the man has brought some stability to the Super Eagles and this was just one big bad day at the office.

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The truth is that we did not prepare well for this game and we underestimated the resolve of Stuart Baxter and his boys.  This game we should quickly forget and move on.

To Rohr, let me state my personal position to you sire.  Nigerians cannot defend for their goal area and what we know how to do is attack with zest.  Even that is now quite eroded with half baked players we now parade. They merely warm benches in their various clubs across the globe.

Let’s chronicle this fact.  Nigeria has produced just one world class defender.  His name sire, is Mr Terrible, oh sorry (in 1996 Olympics the commentator called him so) Taribo West.

Since his departure we have been graced by nearly ‘Champions and Omeruo’ the most recent after Tonight, has lost his way content to just play average football in some obscure club.

Let me push this treatise further; today how many quality centre backs are within our league or Europe now?

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This means there is a dearth and the drought continues unabated.  The likes of Elisha Gilbert are too slow though can be trained to improve.

Mr Rohr, the next thing I must state to you is that Nigeria and its players are dam too used to fire brigade approach so you must camp the players in a strict regimented camp.

I have found that Rhor needs to understand that he must treat our footballers like kids who need direction.  It is how we are toned and it shows in our expansive bit useless play.

We are flamboyant and elaborate in painting the ball practically playing football at snail pace or better explained in the Nigerian lingo ‘go-slow’.

Herein, players who are late without reason must be kept out so discipline is holistic.  He also needs this to speak to our arrogant mindsets that make us feel superior to our opponents.

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With these two foregoing matters out of the way, it is time we build our philosophy of football.  We can’t defend period.

In 1994 at the World Cup, Austin ‘Jay Jay” Okocha (the dancer who never fully blossomed) and should have played keep away so we knock out Italy gifted them the ball and they went on to beat Nigeria.

That set of players jokingly call themselves World Cup stars and for me they can enjoy their boast as the first to take us forward into the World Cup but their collective ignorance led to our ouster at the World Cup.

A quick roll forward we lost to Brazil in the first round with defensive posture.  When we met again, and we had no option in a game we were losing we reverted to a back-three line and attacked which we understand like the air we breathe.

We went on to win the Olympic gold attacking and not defending.  When the white witch doctor, Pillippe Trousier came, and with our team playing against Guinea, even a rampaging Titi  Camera ended up playing central defence to escape Nigeria’s raving rampaging play playing with a back three line.

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Alas some bungling ignorant chaps who had access to the then Head of State stage-managed Troussier’s ouster.  Keshi played a loose four back system wherein he allowed for our expansiveness and passing freeing up Mikel Obi to play and lead us to a Africa Cup of Nations victory.

Lastly Siasia beat France in a friendly playing with a three-man back line which shocked France.

Sire, am I making sense now?  Mr Rhor I appreciate your desire to rebuild our national team for longevity.  My take sire, use the home-based Eagles team to bring in and train players who can adapt to your desired plans for a youthful team.

I ask you to look inwards and work with academies and help rebuild youth system. Sire, keep a data base because we lie too much about our ages.  However there are drills you can use that help you expose the age cheats without necessarily doing medical tests.

Be empirical in your testing regiment and also sit with players individually placing your philosophical approach into their heads.

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I would let you rest now and be back with my further thoughts on the way forward.  Thank you for patiently enduring to read my missive sire.

 

Sporting Regards,

  1. Emmanuel Nyabam Esq. ©2017

CLAPAI orphanage

Laconoscenza Ltd UK/Nig

 

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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Nigerian Football

Nigeria’s broadcast icon, Danladi Bako hails NFF on choice of Finidi George

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Nigerian broadcasting icon, Dr. Nasir Danladi Bako has praised the Nigeria Football Federation for settling for former international and ex-Enyimba FC strategist Finidi George as Head Coach of the Super Eagles.

The Kogunan Sakwatto, 66, who created a plethora of famous TV programmes including Morning RideMastersports and Second Chance, among others, and served as Special Adviser to a number of Sports Ministers many years ago, insisted the NFF leadership struck a bull’s eye with the appointment of the two-time FIFA World Cup star, stating that George oozes class and character, and an iron determination to succeed despite his public carapace of a quiet person.

“Finidi George has that cultured, disciplined mien and personality that makes you want to trust him with a big project. He understands the meaning of constituted authority and right from his playing days, has always displayed the attribute of a team player. He has always had that calm, collected nature even in the face of pressure or danger.

“Above all, he is not someone who thinks he is doing the nation a favour. He is grateful for the opportunity and I believe that he has all it takes to succeed. I am calling on the Federal Ministry of Sports Development, the NFF and Nigerians as a whole to support him to take the Super Eagles to brand-new heights.”

Bako, who holds a doctorate degree in development communication from the Ahmadu Bello University and was Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission between 1999 and 2002, says all hands must now be on deck to ensure victories in the 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches against South Africa and Benin Republic on 7 June and 11 June respectively.

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“No doubt, the NFF got this one appointment right. Very much on point. Now, they should endeavour to give George all the support he needs to succeed in his task of qualifying Nigeria for the 2026 FIFA World Cup.”

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Nigerian Football

Nigeria’s sports minister, Enoh applauds NFF for ‘buying local material’

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Sports Minister Enoh (left) and NFF President Gusau (right) unveil Finidi.

Nigeria’s Minister of Sports Development, John Owan Enoh on Monday praised the leadership of Nigeria Football Federation for settling for an indigenous Head Coach for the Super Eagles, despite the plethora of foreign tacticians who applied for the job.

Enoh, who spoke at the unveiling ceremony of the Eagles’ new substantive Head Coach, Finidi George at the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja, charged the NFF to give the former winger all the support to succeed, while also soliciting the support of all Nigerians for the new helmsman.

“As a student of the University of Calabar in those days, I used to go to the UJ Esuene Stadium to watch Calabar Rovers, which included Finidi George. I am excited to see him seated here as the new Head Coach of the Super Eagles.”

President of NFF,  Ibrahim Musa Gusau exuded delight with the ‘new chapter’ the Federation is opening about the Nigeria game, saying the football-governing body is determined to fully support George and his assistants to lead the Super Eagles to new heights.

“When we returned from the Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire, we began the search for a new Head Coach. There was a plethora of foreign applicants, far more than the indigenous applicants. However, we undertook a thorough process that has produced an indigenous Coach and we are very happy about that. Finidi George was part of the technical crew that came close to winning the AFCON, and we have faith in him that he will lead the team to the title next time.  

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“Our objective now is to ensure the enthronement of excellence at all levels of the National Teams.”

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Nigerian Football

No more bench-warmers in the Super Eagles, says Finidi George

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New man on the managerial saddle of the Super Eagles, Finidi George has stated that  he will invite for international assignments, only players who feature regularly at their clubs either in Nigeria or in the diaspora, and promised that the Super Eagles will remain even more competitive in the years ahead.

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