Football fans in Ebonyi have advised the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) not to disband the Flying Eagles due to its bronze-medal finish at the just concluded U-20 AFCON in Egypt.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) recalls that the nation’s men U-20 team did not impress much in the competition won by the club Lions of Senegal on March 11.
The fans, who spoke to NAN on Sunday in Abakaliki, urged the NFF to disregard calls for wholesome changes to the team as it would be counter-productive to its world youth championship campaign in Indonesia.
Hillary Ogbonna, the Secretary of the Ebonyi Football Association, said the time to build a new team for the world championship in May was short.
“The team we saw in Egypt was not poor and we should recall that it won the West African Football Union (WAFU) zone B qualifying championship in 2022.
“The coaches must had identified areas of weakness and should scout for eligible, competent players to correct such deficiencies,” he said.
Julius Agbo, a member of the Flying Eagles set of 2009, also advised the NFF to provide adequate exposure to the team due to the high standard of the world championship.
“The team was mauling academy and non-league teams in Nigeria during its preparations and people felt it was strong.
“When the team met national teams at the U-20 AFCON, we discovered that it was not competitive enough to win the trophy,” he said.
Maxwell Udoh, a teacher and soccer enthusiast, urged the NFF to begin immediate preparations for the Indonesian championship to create the desired impact.
“The team should be camped oversees for a long period to train with modern facilities and play top grade friendly matches.
“The coaches should avoid controversies of strengthening the team with foreign or locally-based players but ensure adequate preparations to confront the best in the world,” he said.
Mrs Olamma Egbogu, a Sports Psychologist, called for adequre psyching of the players to meet the standard of emerging world’s best.
“The target set for the team by the coaches and relevant authorities was the world championship qualification as emphasis was not placed on winning the U-20 AFCON.
“It was noticed that immediately the team qualified for the semi-finals which quaranteed a world championship place, it lost the steam to go for the trophy,” she said.