Apparently dissatisfied with performance of the men’s Under-17 team in recent times, the Nigeria Football Federation has resolved to adopt a new strategy aimed at building an efficient and result-oriented cadet squad. Chairman of the NFF Technical and Development Committee, Felix Anyansi- Agwu, who described the new measure as pragmatic and cost-effective, said it will enable the building of a strong squad within a short period of time.
Head coach of the Golden Eaglets, Emmanuel Amuneke has been briefed about the new approach, which will save the NFF time and funds in the long run, according to Anyansi.
He explained: “Instead of doing the MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) examination for all manner of players with potential, we just look at those that have potential from the beginning and create a pool of between 60 and 70 players for whom we will conduct the examination. That way, we can drop those who fail the test quickly and run with those who pass and are therefore eligible.”
Anyansi believes conducting the test after identifying players with promise, as was the practice in the past, was actually putting the cart before the horse. “If you don’t like what you have, you return to the screening ground and take more players and move them to the laboratory, then probably find out that they also are ineligible. That approach is very long –winding, time -consuming and capital –intensive.
“That was one factor that worked against our Under-17 team at the African Championship in Niger Republic earlier this year,” he explained. The Golden Eaglets, it will be recalled, finished in fourth place at the African U-17 Championship in Niger, picking the last African ticket to the FIFA U-17 World Cup scheduled for Chile later this year. “We believe the new approach we have adopted is much better and pragmatic, and will enable us to raise a much stronger team for the FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile, and in good time as well,” Anyansi said.