I wasn't surprised that Burkina Faso dumped Nigeria out of the U-17 Afcon and World Cup qualification this week, the writing was on the wall.
Whether under Bosso, under Bankole Olowookere, under Danjuma or under Ugbade, Nigeria is a hard nut for any other team on the continent to crack.
That sadly is as good as it gets as we should expect to play slightly second fiddle to the best teams in Africa these days – but facing Nigeria under any of our local coaches remains a herculean and daunting task for any rival.
The aforementioned Nigerian coaches and Eguavoen really need to up their game and the NFF should provide favorable environment for these coaches to thrive.
These Nigerian coaches all churn out physically fit Nigerian teams who are athletic and able to stretch the best teams on the continent.
One thing they all have in common is predictability. From the 3 games that Eguavoen played in last year’s Afcon, even a casual observer like me was able to decipher and decode his methods with their glaring shortcomings.
So, it was no coincidence to me that the same part of the pitch (right fullback) and the same type of goal (long range strike) knocked Nigeria out of the Afcon against Tunisia and World Cup qualifications against Ghana.
All these Nigerian coaches place priority on “where their players are placed” rather than “the roles they are expected to play”. They adopt a basic approach with familiar traits that is generic, formulaic and stereotypical of recent Nigerian teams.
This makes their methods very rigid, unattractive. More so, it makes it IMPOSSIBLE for them to recover from mishaps and early goals.
Ugbade’s boys are very well drilled and disciplined in the position they are placed which is why they look like “one way traffic” in how they play. The method is linear, direct, mechanical and routine.
So, if they go down to a highly disciplined team like in Bosso vs Gambia, Bosso vs Senegal, or Ugbade vs Morocco , Ugbade vs Burkina Faso, or Eguavoen vs Tunisia, it is near impossible for them to recover from these mishaps.
In short, once any of our coaches go down to a disciplined side, it’s game over! The opposition is often able to foresee what is coming and then shut up shop.
Once we are trailing under any of these coaches, what you tend to see are: endless running down the flanks to cross or attempts to bully through midfield with harmless and readable passes. Not to talk of total meltdown spatial and positional awareness.
I have come to have respect for our coaches. But their methods are wedged in a bygone era of football. These methods are very effective until they come across a supremely tactical team who also matches them physically.
Where their players are placed” vs “The roles they are expected to play”.
I guess emphasis on “role” rather than “position” is what some commentators call modern scientific football.
In the 1930 World Cup final, Uruguay used 2-3-5 formation to lift the trophy: 2 defenders, 3 midfielders and 5 forwards.
In this day and age, it is sheer madness to “place” players in such positions. Yet, Klopp’s Liverpool and Guardiola’s Man City adopt this sort of 2-3-5 shape in-game.
It’s not so much about the formation or position the players are placed but the roles they play within the formation that brings forth dynamism and a level of unpredictability in what the opposition can expect.
The formations are essentially the same as have been but roles are evolving.
I think our local coaches appear static in how they instruct the players to interpret their roles. Some of our so called foreign coaches are starting to resemble local coaches.
Perhaps it is better for us (fans) to fail with our own (coaches) or else they (foreign coaches like Waldrum) will fail with our own (players) anyway.
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