posted by www.equatorialguineaonline.com
Abuja – Handlers of Dream Team V still have more to do to make the team achieve a perfect blend ahead of tougher challenges, some Nigerian football enthusiasts said on Sunday.
In separate interviews, the enthusiasts said that the team had yet to be an ideal side in spite of the progress it has made so far.
The team, which is Nigeria’s under-23 male football team, is currently campaigning in the qualifiers for both the 2012 London Olympic Games and the 2011 All-Africa Games.
On Sunday in Benin, the Edo capital, the team qualified for the final round of the qualifiers for the Olympic Games after a 3-0 defeat of Tanzania’s Vijana Stars.
In the first leg played in Tanzania two weeks ago, the Dream Team lost 0-1.
Malam Isah Ahmadu, a former sports journalist, said Nigerians should not allow the team’s recent results to deceive them into believing that it was capable of facing tougher challenges.
“The win over Tanzania is good, but we should not allow this to make us blind to the fact that the next and final round of the qualifiers is going to be tougher than what we have had so far,’’ he said.
Ahmadu, who is now a Kaduna-based school teacher, said the team, which is being handled by former Super Eagles’ chief coach Augustine Eguavoen, had not shown that it could withstand much pressure.
“I am aware they (the team) beat Liberia 7-2 on aggregate in the 2011 All-Africa Games qualifiers, and Equatorial Guinea in the 2012 Olympics qualifiers, but the final round is going to be a different ball game.
“From what I have seen so far, the team handlers still have a lot to do, because the necessary team blending is not yet there, going by the number of players so far used; there has been no team consistency as a result,’’ he said.
The team will face Egypt, Algeria, Cote d’Ivoire, Morocco, Senegal, South Africa and either Mali or Gabon in the final round of the 2012 Olympics qualifiers.
Mrs Bunmi Adegelu, a Lagos-based housewife, said that she had yet to be impressed with the team, saying that the 0-1 loss to Tanzania had shown that the team was still not “the perfect blend we should have’’.
“The results against Liberia and Equatorial Guinea may have been flattering, but Tanzania brought the team down to earth with that win on June 5 in Dar es Salaam.
“That tells us we must do something, especially now that we know that the opponents ahead of us are going to be tougher,’’ she said.
Mr Femi Abiona, a Port Harcourt-based communications executive, urged the Eguavoen-led technical crew to ensure that the players “get the opportunity of camping together for a long time’’.
“So far, the team has done well. But what we have now is not just what we should have, and that means we need to ensure that the players stay together for a longer time to enable them know each other and blend.
“What we have always had is that all manners of players from abroad and those who cannot be in the Super Eagles are herded together to form a team. But that should not be the case.
“Now, we should be talking of having a team that has blended well by December when they will play the final round of qualifiers, or even earlier, since they are still in the race for the All-Africa Games’ ticket,’’ he said.
On his part, Mr Abdulrauf Ashiru, a Lagos-based avionics engineer, advised the handlers of the team to get the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) to organise more friendly games for the team.
“It is not enough to get them to play only Costa Rica in a friendly, but they should play more friendly games against top African sides such as Cameroon and others.
“This kind of tests will enable Eguavoen to streamline the number of players he is using now, and focus on a small, but good and qualitative set of players that will go for the qualifiers and ultimately the Olympics,’’ he said.
Nigeria and the seven other qualifiers will jostle for Africa’s three automatic tickets to the Olympics at the Dec. 2 to Dec. 18 mini tournament at a venue yet to be decided.
The fourth-placed team will advance to a play-off with a team from Asia, with the winner also qualifying for the Olympics.
The Nigerian team will, however, continue on in its quest for a ticket to the 2011 All-Africa Games in Maputo, Mozambique from Sept. 3 to Sept. 18.
It will face Ghana in the final round of the AAG qualifiers, hosting the West Africans in Benin on Saturday, June 25 and heading to Accra for the second leg match two weeks later. (NAN)