Nineteen years to the day since Kanu wrote his name into legend. This is my love letter http://www.goal.com/en-ng/news/4082/editorial/2015/07/31/13999342/kanu-capturing-the-genius-of-the-butterfly
Thanks to everyone who took out the time to read the last post. Appreciate it. Without you, I’d be stuck talking to myself… oh wait, I think I already do that occasionally. In any event, let’s get to this.
We started out analyzing Sunday Oliseh’s quotes at his unveiling presser, and trying to figure out what direction he might take in rebooting the Super Eagles. The big man said a lot, so this post will try to tie it all up neatly in a bow.
“Gone are the days when we had players who out of their own individual efforts made things happen. And those were during my playing days. But we have the potential to be the best in the world, the pace we are going to bring into this team…”
It’s interesting how much this word popped up in his statements. It is safe to surmise that, from his vantage position watching the Super Eagles through the years, Oliseh has identified it as an ingredient that has been sorely lacking.
I will touch on why pace is so important within the next few days, but Oliseh is right to point out that the flair players are disappearing. In fairness, it is not a Nigerian problem—it has been my belief that outright creativity is being phased out of football. Why? Because it is too volatile. It depends too much on the mental and psychological make-up of a player, which is like betting on the weather.
Consequently, it is heart-warming that he is not talking about some overly romantic ploy to discover ‘the next Jay-Jay’ or some other trite nonsense. We have a problem, and Oliseh has, in keeping with the trend of modern football, found a solution grounded in reality.
I touched on some players who could lead the attacking line with pace here.
“One of the criteria for any players is this: if you have not able to play in first division in Nigeria or any league in the world, you cannot play for the Super Eagles. There is only one exception to that rule, and that is when you are coming up from Nigeria age-grade teams; under-23, under-20 and under-17 and we know that you can serve us; that is where the rule is bent.”
This is a rather touchy subject raised by Oliseh. There are simply too may grey areas, and since then he has come out to add another exception following the outcry of many journalists, including myself.
His most recent comments have sought to clear the air, and emphasize his reasons for this criterion. I still am not convinced. Obviously, only the best should represent Nigeria, but consider this statement and see the loopholes in it:
“The best players in the first division are used to a certain level, tempo and competition standard because that is what the competition entails.”
I don’t buy it. The quality of teams and competitions in all of the world’s first divisions is not the same. In terms of level and intensity, Major League Soccer in the USA cannot match the English Championship, so the fact a player is tearing it up in MLS does not mean his quality is any greater than a Championship player.
I could go on and on, but there is a positive to be gleaned from the initial statement: Oliseh will be keeping his eye on the youth teams. This means we needn’t see our brightest talents overlooked solely on the basis of age; if there is a specific problem a Flying Eagles player can provide a solution to, he will be considered. If you are good enough, you are old enough, as the saying goes.
“My plan for the Super Eagles is to try to get us to play as a team, a better team. Create a harmony and a style that each player has an idea what we want them to play. And as time goes on, when you watch the team from a distance, you know you have a team.”
Oh boy, Oliseh really got a hold of that team thing and isn’t letting go, eh? On a serious note, the emphasis is an indicator he understands one of the things that went wrong under Keshi: the team ethos.
Now, Keshi knew how to run a united ship. Still, there was very little coherence to his side’s style of play. Space and the occupation of it is one of football’s cardinal concepts—as time went on, players under Keshi became that little bit slower to cover for one another, gaps appeared; movement off the ball gradually disappeared as the willingness to work for one another atrophied due to complacency.
Oliseh’s proposes a discernible style of play based on synergy. In lieu of understanding, the players will be instructed individually of their roles, at least at the beginning. I touched on why this is so in the previous post.
All right then, so that’s that. No more loose ends. Would love to read your feedback and comments, so talk to me. Cheers.