10.45 the NFF glass house Abuja
Seyi had a headache
The day had just started and already he felt like calling it a day
He loved football, it was his passion but no one ever said running the game would have this many hiccups
As 1st vice president of the federation youth football was under his purview and a crucial qualifying game for the U20 national team against Burundi was in the horizon
There would be no concession, the nation thirsted for success at U20 level and after non qualification for the AFCON their FA was walking a thin line
He’d done his homework actually. They had a good coach, a veteran of the game and the team were U17 champions winning emphatically under this same coach.
They’d opened camp early, the team had talent left right and centre with some of the players already training with big clubs like Arsenal, and Wolfsburg . So why was he so worried ?
He remembered why and he shuddered.
Despite the nations unrivalled success at U17 level ( they’d won a record 5 times) they couldn’t translate this success to the U20 level
Two years ago the team the nation paraded at the last tournament had also been world champions at u17 level
The coach had been labeled a genius his praises sang to high heavens yet a team replete with the likes of Iheanacho, Awoniyi, Success, Moses Simon Musa Yahaya et all fell like a pack of cards performing woefully at the U20 tournament in Chile!
It was unfathomable, inexplicable unexplainable . .Nigerians were riled ! What a waste and misuse of talent !
Thinking deeper he remembered this had long been a norm. The nation had been U17 champions under Yemi Tella, a team with the likes of Rabiu Ibrahim and Lookman Haruna and they had also failed woefully at the U20s, Same also the magnificent 1993 golden generation of Kanu Nwankwo, Celestine Babayaro and Wison Oruma, what happened at the under 20s ? They didn’t even qualify out of Africa !
What could be the reason ?
It wasn’t age cheating because that had finally been eradicated thank God and shouldn’t even pose a disadvantage until full international level. Was it that the u20 stage was too big and too technical for the coaches and we now needed Oyinbo coaches at this level?
Was their philosophy of retaining the bulk of the U17 players wrong ? Did they need to inject more new talent like the boys doing so well at Roma and risk Cohesion for firepower ?
He needed help…Inspiration. An idea came to him. He picked up his phone
Hello ? Soccer Assembly ? I have a story for you !