Despite the chest-thumping in the Glass House after the successful engagement of a renowned coach, Lars Lagerback for the South Africa 2010 FIFA World Cup-bound national team, there is a subdued pessimism over the semi-final target handed the Swede by the panel of interviewers. Nigerians have spoken and queried the semi final target as a tall order baring the short time to the World Cup.
Coaches, former internationals and football enthusiasts have all come to the conclusion that Lagerback must be a magician to achieve a semi final ticket at the World Cup.
Eagles former head coach, now an assistant to the Swede, Austin Eguavoen has said that he remained as patriotic as ever but viewed the semi final target as unrealistic. â€œDefinitely, semi final is a tall order, but we will all work together to ensure we meet the aspirations of millions of Nigerians.â€ Eguavoen said.
Speaking in the same vein, a Lagos lawyer and former member of the NFF technical committee, Dudu Orumen said Lagerbackâ€™s coming was a good omen for Nigerian football.
â€œHe is a man who is tested, had handled and qualified Sweden for at least nine major championships. He is experienced but it is only a fool who will expect him to get to the semi final. What I expect and what I am certain he can deliver is that he will give Nigeria a respectable outing in South Africa. After the World Cup, we can be talking on how to rebuild the team. Talking about a semi final ticket in South Africa is unrealistic.â€
SUPER Eagles ex-internationals,Â Thompson Oliha and Mutiu Adepoju expressed the same fears on the mandate handed the national team coach.
The USAâ€™94 World Cup ambassadors in separate telephone chats with Sports Vanguard said theÂ Â mandate to the former Sweden coach was impossible to achieve considering the time frame to the Mundial.
Oliha, one of the coaches of the Kwara Football Academy (KFA) said Nigeria is really going to be a different terrain for the new Technical Adviser, but called for the support of all Nigerians.
â€œGetting a new coach four months to the World Cup is going to be terrible for both the coach and Nigerians. The problem of striking an understanding between the coach and the players
is the first thing the coach has to overcome. So Nigerians should not expect a miracle. We are fond of hiring and firing coaches at crucial times. Itâ€™s going to take him time to settle.
We have to give him a free hand to run the team, Nigerians should be patient with the new coach to see how far he can take the team to. This semi final target is asking for too muchâ€.
In his reaction, Shooting Stars Sports Club (3SC) technical adviser, Mutiu Adepoju said, “now that the long expected foreign coach has been named, it is important that we support him. â€œEverybody should support Lagerback to ensure that Nigeria succeeds in the FIFA 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
â€œOn the semi final mandate, nothing is impossible, basically the time frame is short, we just need to support him to prepare the team well.â€
However it would be recalled that Lagerback spent nine years leading his countryâ€™s senior football team and led Sweden to the quarter_finals of the 2004 European Championship in Portugal before also leading the team to the Round of 16 at the World Cup in Germany in 2006. In 2000, he took charge of the team, and led them to the Round of 16 at the World Cup in Korea/Japan where they lost to Teranga Lions of Senegal.