21st July, 2010
As the Golden Eaglets prepare for the first leg qualifier of the Rwanda 2011 African Junior Championship, AJC, ADEBOBOLA ALAWODE spoke with the Chief Coach of the team, Monday Odigie, who disclosed that he is yet to have a first team that would do the nation proud.
Congratulations coach, the Federal Government has rescinded its decision on the two-year ban for all the national teams?
Cuts in! Haba! You are a journalist and should know what is best. It is a good decision that President Goodluck Jonathan had to rescind his decision on the ban but it is not all round celebration. The ban almost sent jitters down my spine not until I heard the FG had had a change of heart.
What effect did the short ban have on your plans?
To be frank, when the news broke I was down. I was almost weeping because I had invested so much in the team, only for me hear that I may not be able to slug it out with other countries fighting for places in the AJC, coming up next year in Rwanda.
What sacrifices have you made so far, that almost made you cry?
To be sincere with you, I have made so many sacrifices to make sure that Nigeria presents a formidable team that can hold their own when hostilities for the qualifiers begin next month. I have been going round the country scouting for young and enterprising footballers that can be used to prosecute the qualifiers.
Are you saying that you have been going on these trips on your own?
I donâ€™t want to comment on that for now, I just want to concentrate on presenting a formidable team.
You want to present a formidable team, how do you intend doing that?
What I mean by presenting a formidable team is that I want to select a team that would post a five-star performance during the qualifiers and one that would go places. A team that every Nigerian would see and say this coach did a good job. I want to package a team for the future, a team that after a short while would make waves all over the world.
How far have you gone?
I must confess, it is not easy combing the nooks and crannies of Nigeria searching for young and enterprising footballers. I mean players who are really Under-17. I donâ€™t want to present footballers who are not actually within the age of 16.
How do you intend to curb the menace of falsification of ages?
Iâ€™m not new in coaching and that is why I took it upon myself to visit different grassroots football venues. Apart from that, I was in Lagos to watch the semis and finals of the Principalâ€™s Cup, I travelled for the Shell Cup competition and a series of others. My priority is to make sure that if you must be in the team you must be a secondary school student.
Your first match is next month against Congo, how prepared are you?
It may sound absurd to you but it is the truth. I donâ€™t have a team yet but I know before the date of the match I can present a team. Iâ€™m working tirelessly to make sure that I get the right players, and they must be willing to play to instruction.
Do you think you can qualify for the Nations Cup next year in Rwanda?
I donâ€™t like making noise over the qualification but I would rather take each match as it comes. After playing Congo, I would now concentrate on the next match.