By Eddie Akalonu
Former Super Eagles assistant coach Joe Eric a.k.a “Erico” has counseled Nigerians not to be disappointed by the bad results recorded by the Super Eagles in 2011 but to “think positive and plan well to make the future better and more resulted oriented.
Speaking in Lagos against the backdrop of the apparent poor results posted by football, he said “we have all it takes to come level and even overtake known opponents like Ghana, Cameroon, Egypt, Ivory Coast and South Africa. But we must make the bold effort to return to the grassroots and catch players young, football belongs to the youth, not the old as we have allowed things to be.”
Erico, who restated his conviction that football needed planning in the region of a four or five year development period or more, said, “You need a long term plan to build an ideal team that would take you where you want to be, like playing in the World Cup but all necessary structures must be in place for you to get there and because these things are not there in football, that has been why I have turned my back on coaching in Nigeria because emphasis is on getting result without an articulated plan. ”
Continuing, he said, “everyone who knows me will agree that I am one who likes to take my time to build, using the very young ones to work with and develop their talent. I have never liked to work ad-hoc as coaching has been made to be these days. So it baffles me when coaches take up a job with a one year or two years contract and accept a mandate to produce result.
It is ridiculous and under such a situation, there can never be planning. People as usual would cheat, cut corners in order to show they are working but it has never worked out and football in Nigeria has never benefited from such approach. Disaster continues and failure remains in the system. But we can take the decision now to get things done properly by insisting on young boys and girls as the focus of our football development,” he explained.
Asked to comment on the NFF and new coach Stephen Keshi, the former, NEPA and Iwuanyanwu Nationale handler responded that Keshi has the experience but that it is in the hands of the the federation to make policy for football and provide the enabling environment that will allow Keshi function at maximum capacity.
“And it is possible to build another national team similar to the one we had in in the 1990’s if emphasis, like I said, is placed on young ones being taken from schools. I will give you an example, for years Spain never had the ability to do well in the World Cup and even in Europe aside there clubs doing well.
“But today Spain are champions of the world at club and national level because they went, took good time and put the structures in place. Ghana did the same in Africa and we can see where they are right now. So, we can borrow from them,” he stressed.