ONE of the local English dailies yesterday quoted Nigeria’s U-20 coach, Christopher Danjuma, as saying The Falconets’ crashing, by six goals to nil, of their Tanzanian counterparts was largely due the latter’s lack of experience.
There is nothing I liked about Danjuma’s statement more than what I can describe as the man’s honest and timely statement to the TFF, our fans, and the media in particular.
Interestingly, the same paper that quoted Danjuma over his description of the main reason behind our girls’ defeat, early last week carried a headline about our girls planning for Nigerians’ scalp! I will come back later to discuss what the local English paper said, but let’s first deal with Danjuma’s statement.
From the outset, I totally agree with what the Nigerian tactician said about our team’s humiliating defeat against Nigeria’s U-20 national soccer team. Danjuma said they easily beat our girls because they were more experienced, in terms of the number of years and matches they had played compared to us.
For instance, he said his team had played together for a very long time and that they had also played in the U-17 Fifa World Cup. What this means is that the Falconets have been playing as a team since they were U-17 when the players were between 13 and 14.
It’s important to bear in mind that when a team is said to be, say, U-17, what it means is that the oldest player in such a team must not be more than 17. Going by Danjuma’s statement about his players’ massive experience, the implication of that is, if the players had been playing together since they were in the 13/14 age range, then this means that they have played together for not less than seven years.
Again, it is important to note that soccer is a team event the success of which is heavily dependent on players in the team not only playing together for a long time, but also working for each and everyone in the team.
Simply put, it means playing or approaching each and every match as one unit, with each and every player in the team having only one thing going into one’s mind, playing or working together in unison in the same way that a person’s limbs does in one’s body.
For no matter how talent galore a team has, it would be difficult for them to win matches if they play as individuals. Therefore in order to succeed, they need to play as a team. That explains why top flight European clubs like Spain’s Barcelona and Real Madrid, Germany’s Bayern Munich and lately, Britain’s Manchester City have been successful in their respective matches.
Teams which play as a team tend not only to win, with ease, their matches, but they are also a marvel to watch their flowing football. Danjuma said his girls played together when they took part in the U-17 Fifa World Cup, meaning that they have played more, challenging matches than our girls.
A team cannot win against the best anywhere under the sun until and unless players in such a team have played together for a long time and against stronger teams.
To appreciate Danjuma’s statement, we ought to ask ourselves the following question: How many matches, locally and internationally, have our girls played before they took on the Falconets? An honest answer to the foregoing question should give us a sense of understanding why our girls fell so heavily against the Nigerians.
In short, to understand and appreciate our team’s defeat, we don’t need to look into the crystal ball.
In the same vein, one can understand the need to give our teams ‘pelp talk’ before they get into a big tournament. But as media outlets, we should refrain from giving our teams false hopes.
The beauty of exposing our teams, and in particular, those that work under soccer academy system, is that they help their respective coaches in finding out whether what they have been imparting on their players, in terms of tactics and techniques, been retained.
Secondly, exposing a team to as many friendly matches as possible, help the players in getting to know one another, hence building, in the long run, team work which is a tool for winning matches.
And one of the major problems that Tanzanian soccer teams, from clubs to national soccer teams face, apart from many of our players having been prepared haphazardly (not through soccer academies), is lack of many, top flight friendly matches.
Let’s hope that we will now listen to the advice made to us by the Nigerian tactician, Christopher Danjuma.