NFF to hire trainer, others for Eagles
The physical fitness trainer, according to the NFF, will be saddled with the responsibility of getting the players fit for the World Cup, just as the physiotherapists would complement the efforts of the one already working for the team.
Speaking to journalists yesterday in Lagos, NFF President, Sani Lulu, said the body decided to hire the trainer based on the complaints of the players, who felt that fitness was part of their problems during the 2010 Nations Cup/World Cup qualifiers.
According to Lulu, “the issue of a physical trainer was one of the things the players brought up when we met with them in London and we bought the idea. This showed us that the players know the problems in the team.
“Now we are going ahead to look for additional physiotherapists to complement the one we already have since the players complained that one is not enough for the team. So we have started the search for professionals to help the technical crew.”
Lulu also emphasised the need for the team to assemble in Abuja before jetting out to Durban to begin training for the Angola 2010 Nations Cup, stating: “It is very important for the players to come home on December 27 before going to South Africa on December 30. I know the time is too short for the preparation but there is nothing we can do about it.
“FIFA rule states that the players can only leave their clubs two weeks before a major championship, so we will make do with the time we have. The idea of their coming home is to appreciate their efforts in the qualifying series and also to tell them how important the Nations Cup is to Nigerians.”
He revealed that the team would leave Durban for Angola on January 8 after a one-week training programme and then play the first match on January 10. He continued: “We are not just participating in the Nations Cup and the World Cup just for the fun of it. No, we want to win both trophies and we call on every Nigerian who has any suggestion on how we can achieve that to come forward with his ideas.”
Meanwhile, the NFF has instructed that all invited players undergo medical checks upon arrival in Durban, to ascertain that they are medically fit for the competition before the final list of 23 is submitted to the Confederation of African Football (CAF) for the championship.
Speaking to The Guardian in a separate interview yesterday, NFF Assistant Secretary General (Technical), James Peters, said the federation was aware that some of the invited players would hit the camp with injuries, which might affect their performances at the Nations Cup.
Peters confirmed that a team of the federation’s medical doctors and physiotherapists would be used to carry out the general medical check-up on the players before they would be allowed to begin full training. According to him, the NFF wants to present an injury-free team that could win the Nations Cup.
Peters disclosed that the Super Eagles technical crew would be made to abide by the result of the medical check in selecting the final 23 players for the competition, adding, however, that players who missed the Nations Cup as a result of injury could still make the World Cup team.
However, the team’s Durban camp will be a no-go area for the media and fans as the team prepares for the Africa Cup of Nations. Contrary to earlier reports, the team will camp at the Riverside Hotel in Durban, according to Media Co-ordinator, Idah Peterside.
“First of all, this is to clear some reports about where the team will camp in Durban. We will stay at the Riverside Hotel, and that is authoritative,” Peterside told KickOffNigeria.com.
He went on to add that both the hotel and training ground would have a strict no-access policy: “The camp and training ground are no-go areas, as the coach wants a closed camp, with security to be provided by the Kwa-Zulu Natal Province, who have partnered Nigeria by adopting us as their team,” he added.
This decision is likely to further strain relations between coach Shaibu Amodu and the local press, which usually demand unfettered access to the team, especially its training sessions. But Peterside explained that the idea was to allow the players to focus.
“The camp needs to be closed so that the players can concentrate on the project at hand, and we need the support of all Nigerians,” he said.