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Okpala canvasses NPFL academies to correct tactical, technical deficiencies


Former Nigerian Captain, Sylvanus Okpala has blamed the Golden Eaglets’ failure to beat Netherland and qualify for the third round of the ongoing FIFA U-17 World Cup in Brazil on the team’s coaches’ inability to study and counter their opponents’ formations in the game.

He said the Eaglets, who qualified for the round of 16 by winning their first two matches and topping their group, should have been in high spirit because the coaches had enough time to correct the lapses noticed in the group stage, adding that Nigeria’s early ouster from the championship should compel the NFF to start focusing on developing football from the grassroots.He also urged NPFL clubs to start youth teams and academies, stressing that it is the modern trend of grooming young talents from their formative stage.

The Eaglets’ ouster from the U-17 World Cup should not be seen as the end of the world. It is only a developmental championship, but this does not remove the fact that things should be done the right way.“When a team qualifies for the knockout stage of a championship, the coach is the one that determines the success of the team by studying the weaknesses and strengths of his opponents before match day.

“This is because he most have had the opportunity to watch his opponents’ pattern of play during the group games. The coach does not have advantage of knowing his opponents before playing the opening game of the championship.“The Netherlands coach was able to study the Eaglets’ previous games and fashioned out a way to curtail the Nigerian team.

“Coach Manu Garba has won the U-17 World Cup before…he is experienced, and so, he is the only person that can give a good account of what went wrong,” he said.Okpala said it was instructive that most of the players in the Netherlands team play in the Ajax Academy.

“They have been together and have a well groomed football culture.“If Nigeria had this kind of structure, overseas-based players will not be much in the team. “The NFF should also ensure that some of this boys that played in the U-17 World Cup get to play for the other junior national teams and in future be in the Super Eagles.

“This his how players like Henry Nwosu, the late Stephen Keshi, Bright Omokaro and myself and others in my set progressed.“If this pattern is used, the Super Eagles will not face any challenge of coaches searching for credible players,” He added.


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