We Need Intelligent Players To Build Robust Super Eagles—Adelabu
Former Green Eagles winger, Adegoke Adelabu, has given insight on how to re-package the Super Eagles for the task ahead.
The Coach Stephen Keshi-led Eagles failed to qualify for the last AFCON in Equatorial Guinea. As Keshi begins a new journey with the team, Adelabu says it is important Nigeria approach the building of the team based on sound principles that could be technically and tactically scrutinised for subsequent development.
“We can no longer build the national team based on the name of any player or the club he plays for,” he said.
Adelabu played alongside Keshi in the Flying Eagles team that lost to Cameroun in the qualifier for the FIFA U-20 World Cup in 1981.
The ex-Shooting Stars of Ibadan winger was also featured in the Green Eagles squad in the qualifiers for Espana ’82 World Cup.
He said that so far, Nigerian soccer fans have enjoyed the ‘free will’ performance of our players saying: “Many times, they have caused the whole nation to fast and pray, when we can no longer rely on the tactical and technical ability of the coach to get the expected result. There is nothing wrong in praying, but prayer works in you first before it starts to work for you and it has been working for us.”
Speaking further, Adelabu said: “I am quite pleased that we have so many good players, but we need intelligent players to build a robust national team. An intelligent player is a player that can use his ability to carry out tactical instructions for a considerable period of time without loosing concentration; which is one of the problems of our team.
“Understanding the dynamics of football performance technology, the national team must have a template, which is like a virtual mental structure that will accommodate players on the condition of the players’ ability to satisfy certain technical and tactical demands. Therefore, irrespective of the age of the player or the club he plays for, the important thing is that we have a comprehensive understanding of what we are looking for in terms of positional demand on the field of play,” he said.
Adelabu, a former coach of Eko United FC, said that the reason why Nigerian coaches may find it difficult to read the game is because they often confuse a player’s technical/tactical ability with his functional ability on the field of play.
“A lot of our national team players are suffering from role conflict. In other words, some are ready to play anywhere just to wear the jersey. That is unprofessional.
I remember a couple of years ago, when the Brazilian national team coach, Donga, threatened to withdraw Juninho from the English Premier League club, if they keep using him in the wrong position.
“He was trying to avoid role conflict, because the coach knows the long term consequences on the national team template. I felt so proud of the coach and the entire Brazilian football cognitive network. I want to advise the NFF to look inward. I am not against sending coaches on refresher courses anywhere in the world, but the question is how much do the coaches know about the players they are coaching in the country? We need our own local content to broaden the knowledge of our coaches and improve the performance of our players.
“A lot of our players are desperate to play because they want to go and play in Europe and not because they see it as a mark of honour to represent their nation. It is the football agents that help us bring players to camp. We have stopped discovering them. That is why there is no student among our U-17 and U-20. If there are, how many of them? I played for this great nation as a student and like many others.
“Let me say this, that teams find it difficult to play against our teams not because of any tactical depth, but because we do not play organised football for considerable period of time during game situations; well it may have worked for us, but it has affected the longevity of the majority of our players on the field of play.”
Speaking further, Adelabu said: “The template will even help the coach to be objective about his own level of understanding of the players with respect to the positional demands on the field of play and as well on how to mold the players to carry out specific functions on the field of play.
“The template is not a respecter of players, that is why you see good coaches bench popular players. We rely on what our players can offer rather than making a demand on what we want from them. Many times, we spend more energy correcting mistakes and trying to win the ball than the actual playing.
“What you build into the player through physical and mental training is one thing, your ability to give adequate instruction to convert them to performance is the critical issue. But with the right template, it won’t be much of an issue. Our coaches need intelligent back up, not administrative threat as we saw during the nation’s cup,” Adelabu said.