‘Don’t crucify Golden Eaglets’

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PHOTO: FIFA.COM

Former Green Eagles winger, Adegoke Adelabu is of the view that the Golden Eaglets should not be blamed for the country’s poor performance at the on-going FIFA U-17 World Cup in Brazil. The Golden Eaglets crashed out in the round of 16 after losing 1-3 to The Netherlands during the week.

“I sincerely hope that a day will come when the government will come to the understanding of the relevance of sport development as an indicator of our national well-being,” Adelabu told The Guardian yesterday. “The reckless abandonment of the need to sanitize the whole gamut of our sport industry is really playing out in our performances.”

The Golden Eaglets are the most successful team in the tournament, having won a record five FIFA U-17 World Cup titles. They were champions at the inaugural edition at China ’85, Japan ‘93, Korea 2007, UAE 2013 and Chile 2015.At Brazil 2019, the team began on a bright note, coming from 1-2 down to beat Hungary 4-2 in their first group match. They also came from behind to beat Ecuador 3-2 in their second match to hit the round of 16 despite losing their last group match 1-2 to Australia.

When so much was expected from the boys in the knock out game against The Netherlands, the Golden Eaglets put their foot wrong. It ended 3-1 for the Dutch.Adelabu, a sports scientist, stated yesterday that the players should not be blamed entirely for the poor performance.He said: “The U-17game is expected to be a developmental programme. I want football fans to tell me the history of the boys who are expected to be in SS3 or there about. Which schools have they represented before? How were they selected? I just need someone to educate me.

“We waste so much money and human resources on competitions without developing anything. Looking at the players, they used more strength than intelligence, which is evident in their inability to raise the standard of their game. Most of them are fixated and may have to play like that for the rest of their lives because they lack fundamental skills and techniques of the game of football.

“There are lots of parameters to look out for in a trained side. Most of their games were not well planned to show that they are a developing side. There is the need to overhaul the technical crew by giving others the chance to offer what they can.”He continues: “I have said it on several occasions that the national team should not be used as a platform for agents to market their players. This is a criminal offence against the nation. The fact that the NFF has to sit down and wait for almost 30 players to come from abroad to form the national teams is unacceptable. It is an insult upon our league and population. We have problems with our football administration because the majority of our officials are political appointees and not professionals.

“That is one of the reasons why we have problems with our financial management. Despite the fact that majority of them are premiership addicts, they still find it difficult to transform our football to be at par with the premiership.There should be a national football appraisal programme, where selected ex-internationals should be engaged to watch preparation of the national team, and make comments that should be considered by the coach and the technical crew. We should not leave the building of the national teams at all levels solely to the hands of the NFF in-house technical crew.

“Agents could introduce players for trial, but the details of such players must be given and verified before they are invited from any part of the world. We must know what we are looking for and if they don’t have it, they have to go. We are waiting to see what the NFF plans to do with the U-17 team. If they can fail at this level, I don’t know what they can offer at the higher level,” Adelabu, a former player of IICC Shooting Stars of Ibadan stated.

The Guardian

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