How the Super Eagles can beat Zambia on Sunday

Africa Focus By: Jide Alaka | 08/10/2016

As daunting as qualifying for the Russia 2018 World Cup currently looks, the Super Eagles have the personnel to make it all the way. But success, like all things, needs cogent planning and execution.

Nigeria Football Federation [NFF] President, Amaju Pinnick told the body’s official website that they have enough money at the moment to offset whatever is owed the players. “Now, we have money to pay the outstanding bonuses and allowances of the players and team officials and we have no problem fulfilling our part of the bargain for this match”, he said. 

FCNaija weighs up all these odds and advises that the coaching team and the players imbibe these five strategies:

Allow the players concentrate only on the game

We have had issues of players told to pay their way to the camp in preparation for the match in Ndola. We have also had the NFF saying that they are broke – which means they would not be able to pay the players’ bonuses. Truly all these are distractions, which the NFF board should have dealt with in the preceding days to the October 9 confrontation with Zambia. With less than 24 hours to this tie, the players must be made to understand that these things would be taken care of and that all their allowances would be paid – they must also believe that this board has their best intentions at heart in order to fully concentrate of the match.

Allow the coach a free rein to choose his team

There have been instances in the past when the ‘almighty’ NFF Technical Committee was said to have imposed players on the coach. Please be advised that this would be inimical to the goal of getting to Russia. For the humongous amount that is being paid to German trainer, Gernot Rohr, he must be allowed to earn that money – that is why he was hired in the first place!

 Mikel should assume the role he assumed in Rio

One of the most positive aspects of the team that represented Nigeria at the 2016 Olympics in Rio was the fact that the captain, Mikel Obi, played a truly paternal role in ensuring that the players in the team felt comfortable and were able to get to the semi-final and get the bronze. This strategy should be replicated with Zambia.

The players should play for each other

There cannot afford the ‘I’ notion in this team. The players must allow the spirit of ‘Ubuntu’ to supersede. It must be “I am because we are”. This way, no team would be able to stand the onslaught. There should be no place for individual glory. Although one of the 11 could be the star, at the end of the match, the score would read Zambia 0-1 Nigeria; not Zambia 0-1 Iwobi for instance. Team members may get angry with each other’s failings but on that must be followed with instantaneous forgiveness – right there on the pitch.

Play with the notion that the referee would be biased

In Africa, the adage ‘home advantage’ often means that the referee would somehow collude with the home team to ensure victory for the latter. The Eagles’ players must be wary of this and be more precise and thorough in the execution of their game plan. If they were planning to give 100%, they must now increase it to 120%. It is not an impossible task but the players must believe that whatever the circumstance, they will be victorious.

All Nigerians are wishing the Super Eagles the best of victory in spite of the prevailing circumstances.