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Of Maigari and Siasia!

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By Onochie Anibeze
Ota Egefere is my friend and a regular reader of this column. He is also a great follower of sports especially football.He called me on Tuesday to say the following: Please, tell Samson Siasia to field local players in the midfield against Guinea on Saturday. The match will come up at 2pm. The weather will be harsh to our Europe-based players. I fear that after about thirty minutes many of them would have fagged out.

This is why I’m recommending local players who are used to the tropical weather. They will help in the midfield where they need to run a lot, joining the attack and defending as well. From Enyimba, Heartland and the likes of Sunshine and Pillars don’t tell me we cannot find players who can fit in.”

I told him he had some points although I didn’t know if Siasia had any such plans. In sports you can only ignore the weather factor at your own peril. I told Ota that it is not only in a situation like this that we need the good ones in the local league. Actually, we need them in all national teams. If I were in the federation I would make a case for only local players to form the national Under 17 and Under 20 teams.

And this will be facilitated by the appointment of about two or three scouts by the football federation. I told Ota that Aminu Maigari, the President of the Football Federation appears to be one who listens and embraces good ideas. He seems to have bought the idea of engaging scouts. I have written on this before and also discussed it severally with top football officials. I was impressed when Maigari said that “it will be done.” I hope the federation will be meticulous in selecting their scouts.

There are people who have the talent to fish out potentials. The scouting job should be on merit and the head scouting officer may work closely with the coaches of the national teams. Always, the federation can boast of a pool of players from where coaches can select players for training. It still does not stop the national coaches from going round the country to select some players. But we know that this has not worked lately especially in the Super Eagles. Time is a factor. Each coach appointed vows to look inwards but eventually fails to do so.

They wholly rely on foreign-based players. The Super Eagles coaches rarely watch the local leagues. That’s why we need scouting officers. But the scouting policy would not work if the federation does not attach importance to Home Eagles, the team that competes in the new CAF competition for national teams constituted by players based only in the continent. The coaching job for that team should not just be job for anybody.

A hardworking coach who has ability to transform players and properly guide their transition should be considered. This is where raw materials can be turned to finished products. Great work is needed here. I always prefer coaches who played professionally in Europe for many reasons which I stated in the past. But summarily, they understand the dynamics of modern football better.

The points made above are all geared toward building a strong backup for the Eagles but in the main establishing a sound football structure for the national teams. It is building for the future. It will only pay us to do so. Our 2014 World Cup campaign will benefit tremendously from it. The Home Eagles coach should work with Samson Siasia as one of his assistants or as a liaison staff.

Our national team should have a more professional and result-oriented structure than we have now for our football to grow. It begins with putting local potentials to good use and planning for the future. There are a few who can be trained and exposed to be stars. I have seen some Europe-based players who lack the potential some local players possess. By luck they found their ways to Europe and are now preferred because of their status and not necessarily total output.

Let’s truly look inwards to help Siasia in building the Eagles. The federation can do so by appointing scouts, appointing Home Eagles coach on merit and supporting him with good programme that the Super Eagles coach would accommodate. These will address the concern of Ota Egefere if not now in the near future for tomorrow’s match is already here.

I wish the Eagles well in tomorrow’s match. I wish that they could rush the visitors and go for early goals. I wish that the midfielders will not leave the defending for only the defenders.

People complain so much about the Eagles’ defence. While I share their concern I want to note that we have not been playing strongly as one unit, the newest thing in football. There are no may play makers. Or better put, their roles are now different.

Any classic player who cannot mark may not be useful in all games. Where you need to fight from start to finish the coach may find a good place for such a player on the bench. Modern football requires everybody in the field to be workers.

Against Argentina Mikel Obi, at one moment, was too slow on the ball and when Lionel Messi dispossessed him he failed to fight back for the ball. He even withdrew from a chase and those he left the job for could not stop Messi in the move that led to Argentina’s second goal.

Obi appeared lazy at that moment and it would be unfair to blame the defenders. Against Valencia in the last Champions League match I saw him lose ball same way about three times but the many workers in Chelsea covered up well and won the ball back. We don’t have many of such workers in Eagles and that’s why any such mistake may be costly to Eagles.

I appreciate the fact that Samson Siasia is still building a team and he is yet to make all his players workers. When he does his team would enjoy better appraisal.

Congrats Dr. Mike Adenuga

On Tuesday, I read the congratulatory message Pamodzi Sports Marketing sent to Dr. Mike Adenuga Jnr. on the rating of Globacom as among the top 10 brands in Africa. I congratulate Chief Adenuga too.

I know what he did and still does for Nigerian football. Our league now lacks sponsors. At a time the same league was worth N690m a year and the total sponsorship package Adenuga doled out to sports was close to N2 billion a year. Nobody, no company has done that for Nigeria. Globacom sponsored the league, all the teams of the Nigeria Football Association including Falcons. Globacom also moved into athletics and sponsored Marathon.

They supported golf too. There were everywhere even supporting the supporters club with millions of money. It was for Nigeria. There’s also the Africa Footballer Of The Year Awards which Globacom sponsors. In fact, Globacom has become synonymous with football.

They sponsor the league in Ghana but they have withdrawn from doing so in Nigeria because of the inconsistencies in the management of the Nigerian league. It is painful. It is equally painful that Globacom took sponsorship for donation.

If they were mindful of the elements of sponsorship they would have insisted on monitoring their sponsorship and Nigerian football would have been better for it. But there’s a new league board in town and Chief Adenuga could have a rethink and help out as it is always in his character to make brands out of Nigerian products. This largely informed Globacom’s recent rating. Nigerian league can still be part of it. Congrats Enyi of Nigeria.

UPPER ROOM

I have an interesting story on the Upper Room. Where is this Upper Room? What happens there? What prospects does it bring to life and possibly sports? Watch out for my Upper Room story.

 

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