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Archive for August 23rd, 2008

THANK GOD WE LOST

Sylva Nze Ifedigbo

Before you attack me for being unpatriotic like the title of this piece would suggest, I am one very sad man this morning. I was quite confident that given the impressive run by the Samson Siasia tutored Dream Team IV, they would crown it all with a Gold medal. That would have like I had written some days ago been an overall victory for Nigeria at the Beijing Olympics for as far as Nigerians are concerned, football means every thing.

But we filed out today under a scotching Beijing sun against Argentina, played our lives out but lost by a lone goal. The streets were silent with every one wearing long faces as though some one of high standing had just kicked the bucket. It’s always so bad losing in the finals. It makes one hiss, curse and bicker. When I was younger, I would refuse my meals and for days to come, I would be moody.

Today, I am moody, but in my moodiness I find some thing positive about our loss. If we had won Gold, the hawks in The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) would have -like always- claimed the victory and we wouldn’t have heard nor made efforts whatsoever to correct all the many wrongs that happened with that team.

Losing is nature’s way of telling us to our faces that we’ve not done every thing necessary to win. Losing gives us the chance to look back at the nature of preparation of the Siasia led side. Losing reminds us that the NFF could not secure one single sponsorship from any corporate body for the team. Losing reminds us that Siasia’s preparations were delayed because of the usual complain: funds. Not too many Nigerians know that Siasia left to Portugal empty handed and with the help of his own personal contacts went ahead to eat “book me down” in Portugal just so that he could get ahead with his plans in the face of frustrating delays from our football mangers the NFF.

The team was without the services of some of her key players just because the NFF failed to deliver letters to the clubs of the affected players on time to secure their release.

Losing reminds us that while all the NFF officials including the Special Assistant of the Chairman were accredited, Best Ogedengbe the team’s goal keeper trainer was not accredited. Can you imagine that?. While all those men were gracing the beds in five star Beijing hotel rooms-possibly with women of easy virtue- and raking incredible amounts as estacodes, the man who should be training our goal keeper was back home in Nigeria. Now how do you go blaming the goal keeper for any errors?

Not just the goal keeper trainer, two other assistant coaches were sent back home leaving only Samson Siasia and Henry Nwosu and two medics as officials. Why? The Nigerian delegation was so much such that even a special assistant could be accredited but our coaches, those who have a business in Beijing were sent back home. What technical input were the NFF officials making to the team in Beijing? Would it have made any difference if they were back here watching on TV like the rest of us? How could we go to battle leaving our war boots at home?

Our team had no psychologist. In the 21st century, who doesn’t know the importance of a psychologist in a football team? Perhaps, just our NFF. Siasia and Nwosu were expected to co-ordinate the team, train the players, train the goal keeper, define the team tactics, think for the team and work on the boy’s psychology while our NFF officials shopped and visited choice sites in China. What do you call that?

We only go back to these issues when we lose. Let’s ask the questions no body would have asked if we had won.

Now, you don’t win the Olympic Gold just by luck. Very serious preparations and efforts have to go into it. Siasia and the boys put in the efforts, but the NFF continued to do the very wrong things at every turn. Losing the finals today gives us the opportunity to ask questions.

The Dream Team IV did marvelously well. Falling by a lone goal to a side that walloped Brazil 3-0 is no small feat. I dough my hat for the gallant boys and their gallant coaches. It was a silver medal well deserved but it would have been Gold if those whose business it is to manage our football did what they should have done, well.

We still have a chance to get it right before the world and nations cup in 2010.

Congratulations Nigeria, our boys did great jare.

Sylva Nze Ifedigbo

nzeifedigbo@yahoo.com

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