Despite Nigerians’ optimism, Lawal fears for Super Eagles
• Siasia banks on friendlies for good outing
Garba Lawal is not given to frivolous talks. The former Super Eagles’ utility man chooses his words carefully and when he delivers his verdict, the wise are better advised to take note.
Lawal was at the unveiling of Nigeria Football Federation’s (NFF) latest partnership, a N450 million a year deal with NB Plc and despite all the accolades that followed the latest money stream, the former Julius Berger star had a word of caution for the managers of the senior national team.
“I am worried that everybody is saying that Nigeria will beat Croatia, Iceland and Argentina at the World Cup just because of one friendly match. This is dangerous because if the players also believe in that line of thought, then we are in trouble.
“I am not saying that we cannot beat these teams, but it cannot be done by merely wishing it. It can only be accomplished through hard work,” he said.
Looking at the players available to all the teams in Nigeria’s group, Lawal thinks the Super Eagles are the weakest in the group.
“Iceland has been up there in the last three years. We all saw what they did at the European Championship. Everybody knows Messi and Argentina’s super stars and then look at Croatia. All their players are in big European clubs, so it doesn’t come any harder than that. But we can overcome them.
“Our players need to be match fit and avoid injuries. Names do not play football, but skill and determination count. The team needs all the best players available for selection in good shape and psychologically prepared for the competition,” he said.
While Lawal preaches caution as Nigeria prepares for the World Cup, another former international, Samson Siasia says the friendly matches lined up for the Eagles will put them in good stead for the challenges in Russia.
The Super Eagles will take on Poland, Serbia, DR Congo and England before the World Cup, which is scheduled to be hosted by Russia.
“It is a joyful thing for every Nigerian that we have qualified and going to fly our flag in Russia but as we all know, World Cup is all about preparations,” Siasia said. “The coach (Gernot Rohr) and the FA need to do everything possible to carry out the World Cup plans. Fine, we have seen partnerships here and there but we need to do so much more.”
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