By Fidelis Ebu
Sixty one year old Swede, Lars Lagerback, who would pilot the Eaglesâ€™ affairs during the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa has said that he will include players from the domestic league if he finds good and talented players there.
Lagerback, who was full of smiles when he stepped out of the car at the NICON Luxury hotel to face a 10-man panel that screened him for the national teamâ€™s job spoke briefly with journalists.
Dressed in a grey suit, the Swede was still beaming with smiles when he walked out of the interview venue with astute confidence. The manÂ who took Sweden to the Round of 16 at the 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cup Finals, spoke on his vision for the Eagles and other matters.
Lars Lagerback, you are welcome to Abuja. Please tell us, how much of Nigeria do you know?
Lars Lagerback: Iâ€™ve never been to Nigeria, this is my first time and itâ€™s really nice to come here.
How much of Nigerian players do you know?
Since the opportunity for this job came up I have looked into it a little bit more. Of course Iâ€™ve been following the team and I saw Nigeria play against Ghana during the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations and Iâ€™ve seen some of the Nigerian players playing in Europe and of course I canâ€™t say I followed it very closely but in 2002 and 2003. I know some of the players, I would say.
Looking at the semi-finals challenge given as target for the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa, how do you feel about it?
From what I have seen in Nigerian players, I mean you have good individual skills. AndÂ I know that the team needs to be organised, it needs to be disciplined and all that. But for me as a coach, I think the individual skills can do really well in the World Cup. So, if you just think of a team and the players together, if they are fit and ready to play on this level, I think Nigeria have good chances.
Whatâ€™s your philosophy of football?
The basic is always to win matches, thatâ€™s the most important thing when you come to football on this level, but otherwise I was brought up in a small football country.
So I believe you have to have a good cooperation in the team, a good organised team, the players work hard for the tournament, because if you want to win in anythingâ€¦if you go to Barcelona, or you go Brazil or Nigeria to win something, you really have to get good cooperation in the team, thatâ€™s important philosophy for me.