By Eddie Akalonu
Coach Franklin Howard has said that the Eaglets wouldÂ give their bestÂ in the on-going FIFA U-17 World Cup if Nigerians could put less pressure on the team.
He noted that because football fans and Nigerians in general feel highly aggrievedÂ over the poor outings byÂ the senior national teams in recent international competitions, there seem to have been a corresponding transfer of such dissatisfaction to the U-17 in the current competition, leading to loss of confidence. Howard, a former junior team captain and defend
er for the defunct ACB FC of Lagos, has therefore urgedÂ Nigerians to put less pressure on the team in this competition so they could do better.
â€œThere has been a transfer of that anger over the Super Eagles poor World Cup campaign to this team, coupled with the Flying Eagles poorÂ campaign in Egypt. Sad part is at the level of U-17, players are not matured yet to manage such crisis and pressure, hence they are being forced into making mistakes in matches. TheyÂ need to be encouraged,â€ he said.
Continuing, Howard, who piloted Shooting Stars to the Premier League after spending time wallowing in the National Division One League, butÂ was dropped by the team, however admonished football administrators to give the Eaglets a push in this competition, by adding a good Psychologist as part of the crew.
â€œI feel that the money they are being paid is good.Â However, I do feel also that what they need most is a psychologist in the team, who will be around them all the time to decipher those things that cause instability of the mind especially for players at their level who may never be able to manage abuse from the fans. The most important thing they need around them is a psychologist. A psychologist would remove their mind from most of societal distractions, create a new sense of feeling, restore confidence and make them create better impact as the tournament progresses. That done they will do better and meet our aspirations,â€ he concluded.
Meanwhile, it can be reported that Golden Eaglets attacker, Yusuf, Otubanjo, can expect the biggest fan- base and applause fromÂ camp of his club, Julius Berger FC should he make the starting line- up in Nigeriaâ€™s remaining games of the on-going FIFA U-17 World Cup.
Although Otubanjo is yet to adorn the national colours for games, the club’s fans are quietly hoping he would soon do. While other teams are crying for losing star players to the national teams, the feeling in EURO- 65 has been that of hurray as Otubanjoâ€™s participation would earn him good experience that would be transferred to club use after the World Cup. “He will score the goals if fielded,â€said one technical official, adding, “I know he is good and would show class anytime he is included in the line.”