Abacha's solution that could revive Nigeria's fading glory in youth football
Hiring the right coaches with the modern requisite skills of coaching young footballers. You don't do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result
By Olusola Adebayo
Nigeria used to be the hub of youth football glory in international football competitions. With five FIFA U17 World Cup trophies and a chunk of impressive performances in the U20 categories, as well as winning all the medals available at the Olympics men's football event, Nigeria has been able to prove she is a force to reckon with in youth football in Africa and the world at large.
But recently, the country has been in the shadow of its past glories as results have been consistently below expectations to the chagrin of football enthusiasts in the country, considering the humongous numbers of youthful talent in the corners and crannies of the country.
Fans, coaches, and football aficionados have been having a field day x-raying what could have gone wrong with a country that has been dominating at competitions, now found it very difficult to qualify for such competitions as the failure of the U23 men's national football to qualify for the 2023 U23 AFCON which serves as 2024 Paris Olympics qualifier brings to fore the Issues in Nigeria youth football development.
The team failed to score a goal in 180 minutes losing 2-0 to Guinea over two legs to highlight the recent regression of the country's youth football.
Coach Felix Nwosu who is fondly called Abacha by his admirers is a young and enterprising coach which has blessed the country with his expertise in coaching academies and youth teams but presently works as the Head of Technical, GreenFoot Ladies Sports Academy, he finished champions of Enugu State Aiteo Cup, takes a wholistically look at the dire situation and proffer a panacea that could help bring youth football in the country back to its former best.
The former Heegan FC of Somalia coach in a chat with our correspondent speaks on the area of hiring coaches, players' scouting and selection, and the necessary changes that the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, need to make to achieve the desired result.
On the coach's selection for Age grade national teams
Coach Felix Nwosu affirmed that the dynamics of coaching young footballers are evolving but the NFF has refused to revolve around this hence our stagnation is not far-fetched.
" Well, football has changed but we as a nation have refused to change"
" When I talk about change, I mean hiring the right coaches with the modern requisite skills of coaching young footballers. You don't do the same thing over and over again and expect a different result", coach Nwosu lamented.
The coach who was nominated by Arsenal FC in collaboration with World Remit as one of the best 25 youth coaches in Africa in 2017 continued:
" We have top-quality young coaches who have shown great output with youth clubs and academies countrywide".
"They needed to be co-opted into the system to wade in with their magic wand, the football federation should stop playing with our national team coaches' selection where the best are neglected".
Method scouting of the right players
On the method of scouting and selection, the coach posited that a nationwide scouting network should be set up to look out for special talents which are many in the academies, local football teams as well Nigerians in the diaspora that are within the age who are able and willing to play for Nigeria.
" We need to go through the academies and also don't forget those with Nigeria blood playing overseas"
"Every state has teams thats registered with the FA, you bring them together by hosting mini-tournaments in each and penciling down the best 3 or 4 legs."
" We can then set up a national camp in Abuja or Lagos for final screening, you will get the unimaginable best selection of players".
The Kenya Institute of Sports Education, KNVB TheFA and CAF licensed coach however, warned that the NFF should be ready to invest in the project, make it an all-year thing as it will fast track our youth football development and also help the Super Eagles in the long run but the selection should be strictly on merit otherwise everything will be an exercise in futility.
"It's not a two weeks stuff. Coaches and scouts youth to be funded for this kind of tour by the NFF, trust me, without bias, no team in Africa will beat what we come up with after the exercise", the former Right2win and DreamStars Ladies coach concluded.