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Laloko tells NFF to soft-pedal on winning Cadet Championships

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Former Nigeria Football Federation Technical Director, Kashimawo Laloko, has queried the urgency, which Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) put to win cadet championships.

He said rather than winning, emphasis should be on discovering and nurturing players that would take over the senior national teams in the nearest future as canvassed by FIFA.

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The Golden Eaglets of Nigeria finished second behind winner, the Young Lions of Cote d’Ivoire, in the just concluded U-17 WAFU-B tournament held in Lomé, Togo.

Speaking with The Guardian on the recent U-17 WAFU-B tournament, last week, Laloko said NFF should soft-pedal on winning cadet championships and focus on the dream of FIFA with the right ages of players.

”We got it wrong from the beginning of the U-16 championship organised by the former FIFA president, Joao Havelange and his Secretary, Sepp Blatter. The championship was essentially created for Africa and sponsored by Kodak.

“But many of the players that later featured in the competition for their respective countries were above 20 years of age. And in Nigeria, how many of those players who played at the U-16 Kodak World Cup grew up to play in the Super Eagles?

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“It was in 1989 that it was eventually discovered that most of the players that were in the team were not only overage but were brought into the team by officials of the NFF. We didn’t know that some players were imposed on the coaches. Then tell me how many of these players who featured in the cadet tournament played in the national team?

“The emphasis has always being that you must win, and the people at the NFF, up till today, have not realised that the only thing we need to do is to develop players, who must play for our country. One thing I did as the NFF’s technical director was to develop a policy of inclusion for at least three players to graduate to the senior team,” he said.

Laloko added: “The policy brought players like Abiodun Baruwa and some others into the senior national team. Even when I was there, I couldn’t do much because some of the players’ ages were falsified. I don’t want to blame these players because even some ministers showed interest in who comes into team and what not.

“The solution I will proffer is that we must realise that our football is dwindling and our coaches need to be updated on new trends in modern football. Currently, our coaches only rely on what they know and what they have been taught.

“All the coaches we have now in the junior teams were trained by myself, Chief Adegboye Onigbinde, James Peters and the late Shaibu Amodu. Even at that, we need to retrain them in modern trend so as to know what is going on because football has changed a lot. But because of the change in trend and methods of the game, we now need to supervise them.

“Nigeria played against Cote d’Ivoire and they beat us two times and Coach Fatai Amoo was crying. This is not about crying, but making sure that when you’re given a job to do, you make consultation with those who can help. But because of what they want to get themselves, they won’t do that. We have qualified for the championship in Morocco and if we have learnt anything, we should get somebody to look after team,” he stated.

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