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NFF’s poor planning killed junior national teams, says Adelabu


A player of the U-23 team on arrival in Lagos on Monday night after finishing third at the just concluded Rio Olympic Games. Photo: FEMI ADEBESIN-KUTI

A player of the U-23 team on arrival in Lagos on Monday night after finishing third at the just concluded Rio Olympic Games. Photo: FEMI ADEBESIN-KUTI

As officials of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) continue to point accusing fingers at their counterparts in Niger Republic for the 3-1 defeat suffered by the Golden Eaglets in the CAF U-17 championship qualifier last weekend, former Green Eagles winger, Adegoke Adelabu says those leading the nation’s football have ran short of ideas.

The Golden Eaglets won the last FIFA U-17 World Cup under coach Emmanuel Amuneke, but were led by coach Manu Garba to Niger Republic for the CAF U-17 championship, where the Junior Minas eliminated them. It means Nigeria will not play at all men’s football competition both in Africa and on the global stage in 2017.

The Super Eagles under coach Samson Siasia, lost out to Egypt in the race for Gabon 2017 African Nations Cup, just as the Flying Eagles led by coach Amuneke were sent packing by Sudan in Lagos in race to Zambia 2017 African Youth Championship.Adelabu, a sports scientist, told The Guardian yesterday that the rot in the nation’s football would continue until those running affairs at the NFF took the right steps.

“Our Golden Eaglets were eliminated by Niger Republic in the race to 2017 CAF U-17 championship and what we are hearing from the NFF in Abuja is that Nigeria was robbed. Who robbed you? I have said it times without number that those administering our football have lost focus on how to build a team. I have also sounded a note of warning about this ideal of the NFF and our coaches relying solely on football academies to raise players for the junior teams. That our Flying Eagles and the Golden Eaglets failed to qualify for age grade competitions in Africa within one month calls for big worry,” Adelabu said.

Speaking further, Adelabu, who played for the then IICC Shooting Stars, said: “These competitions used to be areas we dominated in football. Our failure is a revelation of the inherent problem in the way that our players are produced.

“In sports, there is what we call process goal and outcome goal. If we fail in a particular competition, all we need do is to go back to the process and evaluate our strategies. But the way we go about preparing our players for competitions needs to be readdressed. We are always focusing on winning without building our processes on solid foundation.

“Also, our coaches need to be tutored in the area of sport intelligence. Every competition sets its own standard and we should be able to set a standard in the way we prepare the players so that we do not waste their talents. It is emotionally traumatising for us not to qualify in Africa despite our population dominance.”

Adelabu, who had his sports science training both in Nigeria and abroad, said that in as much as soccer agents could introduce players to the national team coaches, the national team should not be used for the purpose of advertising players. “We should ensure that players are allowed to prove themselves and not just hand picked to play for a nation like Nigeria. Our coaches need more education on the issue of getting the best out of the players.”

He warned that until the Amaju Pinnick-led NFF decides to look the way of school sports in building for the future, Nigerian football would continue to witness bad results. “How many school sports players were part of the Golden Eaglets squad to Niger Republic? We keep relying on football academies and the result is what we are now harvesting because a majority of the coaches are not properly trained,” Adelabu concluded.

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