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Aiyegbeni picks Lagerback as best Eagles’ coach

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Aiyegbeni made one of the worst misses in World Cup history, when he failed to convert a vital goal that could have seen Nigeria beat South Korea and progress to the Round of 16 at 2010 FIFA World Cup Photo: AFP

Former Super Eagles striker, Yakubu Aiyegbeni has described Nigeria’s South Africa 2010 coach, Lars Lagerback as the best national team manager he played for in his over 15 years international career.

Lagerback took Nigeria to the first World Cup in Africa, where the Super Eagles crashed out in the first round, with Aiyegbeni missing what looked like an easy goal that would have put the country in the second round of the competition.

Aiyegbeni said Lagerback’s technical organisation of players on and off the pitch was outstanding, adding that the Swede did more than many other Eagles’ coaches during his short stint with Nigeria.

The Everton of England former player said the Eagles’ failure to excel at the 2010 World Cup should not be blamed on Lagerback, adding that mistakes from some players affected the team’s progress at the championship.

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Aiyegbeni said he always marveled at the way Lagerback studied Nigeria’s opponents with his players before every game, adding that dissecting opponents through video clips helped them to know the strengths and weaknesses of players in the opponents’ team.

Aiyegbeni stressed that Lagerback’s method of training was good because football went beyond a coach assembling 11 quality players on the pitch without giving them a well-structured guideline to follow.

“After the normal training on the pitch, he would take the players on long practical lessons off the pitch. Before the Super Eagles played its first match at the 2010 World Cup, Lagerback got the videos of all our group opponents and other participating countries at the championship. We studied and watched every team; he showed us the strengths and weaknesses of every player in our opponents’ teams and the formations on how to handle them.

“This was what helped the Eagles to curtail Argentina, who were one of toughest teams at the 2010 World Cup.

“Although we lost, but all the players played as a unit in the game. Lagerback gave the Super Eagles the best training when he was in charge of the Eagles.

“The Super Eagles could not excel in South Africa not because of Lagerback’s technical errors, but for some individual mistakes made by players at the World Cup.

“Part of it was the sitter I missed in one of the games. Other coaches that come close to Lagerback are Bonfere Jo and the late Shaibu Amodu, but Lagerback still stand above all of them,” he said.

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