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Don’t rely on past successes, Adelabu tells Eagles

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Former Green Eagles winger, Adegoke Adelabu says that Super Eagles must not rely on their past successes in confronting today’s game, particularly as they prepare for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

For the team to succeed, according to Adelabu, the players must change their attitude with or without the ball during matches.

“Every game sets its own standard,” Adelabu said in a message to The Guardian. “That is why our players need to evaluate themselves on the basis of their understanding of their responsibilities on the field of play.

Adelabu, a sports scientist and member of NFF Technical Study Group, stated that one major mistake the players made in their outing against Serbia was spending more energy trying to win the ball than playing the game itself.

“I watched the match between the Super Eagles and Serbia and it is important that the handlers take into consideration the following tactical strategies.

At any World Cup platform, every team comes with new tactics or call it trend with respect to ball possession, set pieces, pace and energy level.

Most importantly, every country tries to showcase a particular super star around whom the team is built. With the Super Eagles, most of these performance components are yet to be seen.

“Back to the game against Serbia, my problem is not the score line. Rather, it was the lack of cognitive network between the players.

Apart from the team strategy planned by the coach, each player in the team must demonstrate some level of understanding of what he can do under any condition.

“It is on this basis that they can turn the heat on their opponents to fight back. Also, they must show an understanding of the plan of the opponent when under pressure and do something about it as a team.

“Also, the opponent moved the ball faster around the field as a team, while our players ran with the ball more as individuals.

It is sad that despite the fact that the Serbs took over the left wing to create opportunity for goals, we could not do anything about it until they used numerical advantage to get the two goals.”

Speaking further, Adelabu, who played for IICC Shooting Stars of Ibadan in his active days, said: “I think at this level, players are fielded in various positions based on the uniqueness of their ability and understanding of the demands of the field positions. But these attributes were not properly displayed by the Super Eagles.

“For instance, I do not know how our team could allow the Serbs to pocket our main striker (Ighalo). He has to find a way of playing by freeing himself from the defenders.

This is where Mikel would have supplied him with long passes to keep Ighalo on the move just as we did against Argentina.

We defeated the Argentines not because we were overall better, but because we gave our strikers excellent ball supply to confront the defence when they least expected.

“The team must know what each player is capable of doing and as such ensure that we tactically make them functional.

The issue is not just for the players to struggle and be part of the team, the diagnostic potential of friendly matches does not take into account the situational pressure that the World Cup atmosphere is going to generate.

Hence, a player may struggle to make the team, but finds it difficult to do anything at the World Cup proper.

“What are the new formation, set pieces, passes and reception that Eagles are introducing to the world? That is what we want to see so that we can emulate it at the grassroots level for our development.

These are some of the things we need to take care of before the World Cup starts,” Adelabu stated.


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Adegoke Adelabu
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