For once, Manu Garba tutored Flying Eagles looked invincible. We saw them wallop every team that came their way – from Super 6 tourney in Abuja to African youth Championship in Dakar and then, all the friendly games through their build up and training camp in Germany – the team seem unstoppable
The world was waiting to see the same enterprising football that saw the boys win 2013 FIFA U16 World cup in UAE. And both the government and people of Nigeria were behind them. They were the chosen ones to take over Nigeria national team in 2016.
The equation and graph have all been plotted. If the team win FIFA U20 World cup in New Zealand, then most of the boys will be drafted to the U23 team for Rio Olympic Games in 2016. Afterward, they will all be invited to take over as Super Eagles prepare for 2018 World cup. Well as we all know, Football isn’t mathematics.
Brazil quickly unmasked their seemingly invincibility in the first Group E game at 2015 FIFA U20 World cup, defeated the Nigerian side 4 – 2. Yet fans were still hopeful that the team will bounce back, but did they? Their play wasn’t that convincing as they struggled to beat both Korea DPR and Hungary. But then, Germans posed a stumbling block at the round of 16.
The irony was the teams Flying Eagles out rightly defeated at the AYC – Senegal and Mali – are now at the Semi Finals of the tournament. Mali looking good to lift the trophy for the first time, after they defeated Germany at the quarter finals 4 – 3. But the African Champions have been sent packing.
So what went wrong with our champions Flying Eagles? Some say it was ‘over Confidence’ that made the team complacent in their play; while other say the ‘team spirit eroded them when the Coaching crew allowed some foreign based players walk into the team without fighting for a place, which led to decamping some key players.
But most analysts said it was a technical issue. It was easy for the German team to read the Nigerian unchanging game plan and came up with a better antidote. But the Nigerian technical crew couldn’t respond to the dynamics of the match.
These issues may all be a contributing factor and more, but we must look ahead. What will be the fate of the boys? Is NFF going to dump them and look for another?
For me, I think that NFF should still continue with their plans to graduate these boys to the senior national team level. That the team lost at the round of 16 doesn’t mean they are not good enough. But the right attitude is to learn the lesson from the New Zealand experience and move on.
NFF should go ahead and invite some of them to U23. I guess Samson Siasia would want to assess them further for the Dream team. I also think Manu Garba and Nduka Ugbade should be given another chance at this level. Let them correct whatsoever mistake they have made this time. Remember, football isn’t Mathematics