Published On: Thu, Oct 12th, 2017

Russia 2018: Eagles should play high quality friendly matches – Ngwaogu

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Ahead of the Russia 2018 World Cup preparations, the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, has been advised to start searching for the black goat while it is day time.
The advice was given by the First Vice Chairman, Federal Capital Territory Football Association, FCT FA, Mr. Patrick Ngwaogu in an interview, yesterday.
Mr Ngwaogu who spoke exclusively to our correspondent, commended the Super Eagles for a job well done in qualifying the team from a group regarded as “group of death” with a match to spare.

On Saturday, the Super Eagles qualified for Russia 2018 World Cup, what is your view about the feat?
It is a thing of joy to all Nigerians and every football follower and stakeholder. When it comes to football, that is where we do not have tribes, no sentiments attached to it. Everybody will want the country to play and win. We thank God because the players were able to get the maximum points that took us to Russia.

1994 has been adjudged the Eagles’ best performance in the global showpiece. What advice will you give to the NFF ahead of 2018 World Cup Preparations
Our best performance was not in 1994. We qualified to the second round in 1994, 1998 and 2014. But what we should be talking about now is what we should do to go beyond the second round because in 1994 we were almost some seconds away from getting to the quarter-final before we were eliminated. Be that as it may, we are improving on daily basis and we have come thus far being the first African team to qualify for the Russia 2018 World Cup in what many people assumed to be the group of death but we are able to come through without even more stress.
The NFF know that the task ahead is very enormous because we are no longer playing Africa now, we are playing the world. The preparation for the World Cup should now start immediately with the match against Algeria. It is a no match situation to say because nothing is attached to it. Win or lose we are already in World Cup and Algeria is already out. So, preparation for the World Cup should start with the Algeria match.
People should not assume that we have already qualified and there is no need to take the match seriously; no. That should be the first preparatory match.
There will be FIFA free-windows between now and the World Cup period; these free-windows should be fully utilized. If the NFF have not keyed into it, they should do that immediately to ensure that those free-windows are used. They should play quality friendly matches that will strengthen the team for the task ahead.
I think we still have the nations cup qualifiers; these matches should be taken seriously and they should be used as bases for the World Cup preparations.

The team’s 2014 Round-16 match against France was stymied by bonus rows. Nigerians are of the view that this ugly trend might likely hurt the team again in Russia.
Nobody is praying for it. We learn very much from experience. The present board of NFF must have learnt one or two things from the past. We should not allow such issues to crop up. Whatever thing that is due for the players should be given to them at the right time. We are not expecting such. The payers who are there now are patriots. They want to make names for themselves; they want to make their countrymen happy because as I always say, it is only football that makes us happy as a people in this country.

How would you describe Rohr’s tactical approach?
In 1994 we qualified with a match to play under Philippe Troussier. The tactical approach of Mr Rohr is not too cumbersome. He has the players at his disposal. All he needs is to manage them. At that level, it is wrong for you to start thinking of coaching players; you don’t coach at that level. What you do is to manage. What are you going to coach them? Just tell them what to do, their position, movement and that does it. So you manage them, their ego, personality and psyche. That is all that is needed at that level. You are not coaching, you are only managing and that is what Rohr is doing. And because he has enabling environment from the NFF, he is able to excel and perform very well.

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