U-20 World Cup: John Obuh For Toulon School


Chief Coach of the Flying Eagles of Nigeria, John Obuh and his wards would have an opportunity to perfect their acts ahead of the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Turkey when they take part at the 2013 Toulon International Tournament which kicks off in France later this month.

The international football tournament would provide the technical crew led by Obuh an avenue to test their strength before the World Youth Championship, WYC which will hold next month.

The Flying Eagles relinquished their title at the last edition of the African Youth Championship, AYC held in Morocco. They will be using the tournament in France to look at the areas of weaknesses before the commencement of the WYC.

At the AYC in Morocco, the Flying Eagles were wasteful in front of goal as they threw away litany of scoring chances and it is expected of the coaches to use the 10-nation invitational tourney to correct the shortcomings of the team.

The team came under serious criticism following their poor showing in Morocco but it was the attacking department that got much of the bashing because of their wastefulness.

Expected to lead the team’s onslaught is Kayode Olanrewaju, who will be getting the desired support from  Edafe Egbedi of AGF Aarhus, Denmark, Moses Daddy-Ajala Simon (Unattached), Lucky Omeruo of Bayelsa United, Chidi Osuchukwu of Dolphins, Bright Ejike of Heartland, and the ever reliable Alhaji Gero of Rangers International of Enugu. Some football aficionados are of the view that Obuh should use the pre-tournament competition to fine tune the team into a rich blend that can terrorise their would-be opponents.

With the bulk of 2011 set returning to the world stage again, they are expected to perform better based on the wealth of experience they have garnered.

The Flying Eagles are in Group B of the 10-team tournament and will kick off their campaign on 29 May against the defending champions, Mexico, who they coincidentally lost1-4 to in another invitational tournament in Panama when they were preparing for the 2011 WYC in Colombia.

Some analysts and stakeholders are however of the views that Obuh is bereft of ideas, they reasoned that the coach lacks the technical and tactical wherewithals to lead the team to great heights.

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They faulted Obuh for failing to discover young and promising players, stating that there is no point calling up players that participated at the last edition of the WYC.

First to air his grievance is former member of the Nigeria Football Association, NFA, Godwin Dudu-Orumen, who reckoned that it is unwise for Obuh to rely heavily on players from the Nigeria Professional Football League, NPFL and foreign clubs to prosecute an age grade competition.

According to Dudu-Orumen, “Obuh is just wasting our money, why should he be inviting players from abroad when we expect him to use players from academies and secondary schools in the country.”

Flying Eagles coach John Obuh (left) and his players during a training session. PHOTO: AFP
Flying Eagles coach John Obuh (left) and his players during a training session. PHOTO: AFP

Obuh’s assistant at the Nigeria 2009 U-17 World Cup, Monday Odigie reasoned that the France tournament would afford the U-20 team an avenue to blend before the World Cup proper.

A board member of the Lagos State Football Association, Dotun Coker said the invitational tourney is a welcomed development for the Flying Eagles because it would avail the team the opportunity to know how readiness they are for the WYC.

“The invitational tourney no doubt is good for Obuh and his players because they would be playing against teams that they would eventually confront in Turkey.”

Nigeria will be playing in Group B that contains the like of Belgium, Mexico, Portugal and Brazil, while Group A consists of South Korea, France, Colombia, USA and DR Congo.

—Adebobola Alawode

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