Former Green Eagles winger, Adegoke Adelabu, has attributed Nigeria’s poor performance at the ongoing World Cup in Russia to ineffective game plan by the handlers.
The Super Eagles were knocked out in the group stages, following defeats to Croatia and Argentina.
In a message to The Guardian yesterday, Adelabu, who played for the then IICC Shooting Stars of Ibadan in his active days, said: “There are two components in a match, the ball and the game plan. When you have a game plan, you allow the ball to do the running, but when you have no game plan, you run with the ball. We know technically that the ball is more energetic than all the players; why then don’t we allow it to do the running?”
The former manager of Eko United FC of Lagos added: “I don’t want to believe that we have come to the point where the issues surrounding our participation in the World Cup or international competitions without success have become an accepted norm of bye-gone is bye-gone. We need some explanations on what went wrong and how we hope to correct it in the future.
“Personally, I consider it as an abuse of human capacity development for a nation of about 180 million citizens, to parade a group of sport men and women for international competitions, without ensuring that they have been exposed to the limit of human capacity development both tactically, technically and psychologically before the competitions.
“What our sport administrators fail to understand is the psychological impact of our lack of professionalism and intellectual negligence in the way we prepare for competitions. We spent so much money without having anything to show for it. I have said it repeatedly, that our players spend too much energy running about to win the ball than playing the game.”
“Our major challenge is that we always parade strikers that are only effective when they have free space to run with the ball towards the goal. The simple tactical supremacy that the Argentine used against us; was to keep the ball on the wings and drew our wingers and strikers to come back and mark so that in case of counter they will have to run longer distance before getting to the opponent goal area.”
Each time we were on the wing, all they did was to slow our players down. Also, we spent more time thinking of what to do with the ball. When our players did one touch pass, they were meaningless. We did that because we did not know what to do with the ball in reply to the mistake of the opponent. My submission is that the boys are good, but they were not adequately trained for such a high standard competition like the World Cup,” he stated.
Adelabu, a sports scientist, added: “The simple questions a coach needs to ask himself is whether he has the player that could do the job, or he needs to train the players to do the job. All our movements and passes were predictable. No single player was able to step up the game. Every game sets its own standard. Look at our ball handling, type of passes and set pieces with or without the opponent. I said it in my previous articles before the world cup that all these things were lacking. Our standard is better than this irrespective of the fact that we lost. This is not criticism or condemnation; look at the other teams like Spain, Brazil, France, Germany; yes some of them lost, but they demonstrated improved performances technically and tactically that became functional in the individual approach to the games by the players.
“By the way, who gave the beer company the permission to put the name of supper Eagle on the bottle of beer? Of what good is beer to the lives of the players? Then the jerseys; none of those colours matched the colour of our flag. Why didn’t they mess around with other countries’ colours? Those were not the kind of green colours we are used to.”
On the issue of the NFF leadership, Adelabu said: “We have to let FIFA know that Nigeria is a country and not a federation under FIFA. We have laws, which FIFA’s cannot push aside. My wife (Chief Magistrate) was arguing with me that there are certain international laws that we have to abide with as a nation. The laws of our land must be used to produce the right person that will uphold the integrity of our nation. This time around, FIFA must allow the laws of our nation to settle the issue of NFF once and for all without disrespectfully threatening to ban Nigeria. If FIFA characteristically interferes based on her monopolistic tendency, it is high time the nations of the world deliver themselves from the strongholds of FIFA.
“I think the Sport Minister will set up committees to look into what happened in Russia 2018, How much we spent and what we need to do with our domestic leagues. The Minister should find out how many Nigerian youths are earning a living from playing Tennis, basketball, swimming, golf, etc. Because we spend a fortune watching all these games on TV. Majority of the people running our football are shareholders in EPL. How come they cannot improve our own league but use our allowance to go abroad and watch their teams play. These are the issues that would be called to question one day.”