My plans, my dreams for Super Eagles, by Amodu
In fact, the coach told his audience during a media parley organised by Tom Tom that he now has a team that could go all the way in Angola. But there was a proviso: Nigerians must support the team all the way for the country to make it in Angola. Amodu explained: “The Nigeria Football Federation gave me a semi-final target to meet in Angola, but I am saying that we can win the trophy.
“However, we need the support of everybody concerned, including the NFF, the media and the supporters so that we can build a mental fence around the players. They need strong mentality to withstand all the opposition they will confront in Angola.
“We have a team that is evolving into a strong force, a team that did not lose any match in the qualifiers despite the criticism they faced from their compatriots. That means there is something good about this team. What we will do now within the short time available to us is to build on that strength for bigger challenges.”
Amodu revealed that he was not bothered about South Africa 2010 World Cup now because the Nations Cup was of utmost importance to him. He stated: “I am concentrating now on the Nations Cup because our performance in Angola will tell us what we need to do before the World Cup.
“Every coach wants to win and I am no different. A victory in Angola will further boost my CV, so that is why I am aiming high. We have a good team and by the grace of God, we can emerge victorious.”
On the factors that influenced his list of players for the pre-tournament camp in Durban, South Africa, Amodu revealed that he chose 32 players based on the needs of his team, adding, however, that time did not allow him to expand the number of players invited for the exercise.
“I would have limited the number of players to 23, knowing that we have only eight days to train before our first match, but we expanded the team to 32 because we were not sure of the fitness level of most of the regular players,” he disclosed.
“Our initial plan was to train in Namibia, but we discovered that we needed time to put the turf in Namibia in good shape before using it. The other turf proposed to us was artificial but the pitches in Angola are natural, so we felt it would be to our disadvantage if we train in artificial pitch and play in a regular turf.
“Durban was our Plan B and we chose the city because it has the same weather condition as Angola. So, after training for seven or eight days in Durban, we will take a chartered flight to Angola on January 10, two days before we face Egypt in our opening game.”
Amodu was quoted recently as saying that the three home-based players he invited to camp would be mere training tools and therefore, would have no chance of making the final cut for the competition. But the BCC Lions former coach denied denigrating the home-based players, stating that he only meant that the time was too short for the new players to blend with those he had been using in the last two years.
“I don’t like reducing our footballers to home-based and foreign-based players because that is capable of bringing bad blood into the team. It will make it look as if we are discriminating against our players,” he explained. “What I said was based on the reality on ground. Go to most of football fields where our league matches are played, the pitches are unplayable.
“We have skillful players in the Nigerian League but every ingredient needed to raise the standard of their game is not there. They are owed salaries and allowances, which affect their psyche, their output on the field. To get the players to play at the international level you have to rehabilitate them; we don’t have the luxury of time to start doing that now.”
He added: “We have agreed to give the home-based players the time to grow, and one of the things I will do after the Nations Cup is to assemble a team of players based in Nigeria to see what we can do with them. We did it in 2002, that was how we got Eric Ejiofor and some other players.
“On taking this job, I proposed to the NFF that we should build a home-based team, but they told me to concentrate on the World Cup qualifiers. They gave the team to Okey Emordi to handle and we did not qualify for the maiden African Nations Championship. We did not gain anything from that team because we were not part of the set-up.”
The coach, who despite prosecuting the Angola/South Africa 2010 campaign unbeaten is still under pressure, acknowledged that his players were not yet playing as well as they should. However, he insists that Nigerians should give him time. The BCC Lions former handler, who pointed out that (Clemens) Westerhof spent five years with the Eagles that shone at Tunisia’94, continued: “What many of you forget is that the team is still in the building stage.
“You should all know my pedigree – I always produce teams that play attractive football. When I was with Shooting Stars, they were playing good football, same with BCC. In fact, when I was with them we even beat Rangers in Enugu. What I’m saying is that we need time to get the Eagles up to scratch. My immediate brief was to qualify for the World Cup, which I achieved.
“I know that, had my team played good football and failed to make the World Cup, I would have been out of job by now. So you should understand this.”
He disclosed that the Super Eagles would play some practice games in South Africa before moving on to Angola, adding, however, that the games would only be against local sides as the team has no time to arrange first class matches.
Amodu further dismissed plans by the Nigeria Football Federation to employ additional trainer and physiotherapists to the team, stating that he had no time for any additional staff now, but “we can add a masseur to the team, but no additional physical trainer will go with us to Angola.”